Perennial Nettle

Perennial nettle is a European plant covered with stinging bristly hairs, which can deliver a vicious sting if people come into contact with them. 

The sting causes itching and burning which may last for several days. Animals shy away from the plant because of its stinging hairs. The pollen from this plant may cause hay fever.

Perennial Nettle's extensive system of underground rhizomes, and its ability to form tall dense stands means it can easily invade paddocks and dominate good pasture. It tolerates a wide range of conditions, soil types and localities from shade and damp, to very dry. It can be found in pastures, in areas where stock shelter or congregate, waste areas, river banks, roadsides and old house sites.

Growing up to 1.5 metres high, its stems are woody, flowers are green, and its leaf is a lighter colour green than common stinging nettle (Urtica urens). Its seeds are 1 to 1.5mm long, flat, oval and yellow to greyish in colour. Its underground rhizomes can spread 2.5m in a season.

Management and control 

Perennial Nettle is identified as a pest and is banned under the Otago Regional Council Pest Plant Management Strategy and land occupiers are required by law to destroy any Perennial Nettle on their land. Sites of Perennial Nettle can be reported to the Council. It is illegal to sell, propagate, or distribute any parts of this pest plant in Otago. Council staff inspect properties from November to January, looking for infestations of Perennial Nettle.

To eradicate the pest plant, spray with approved herbicides between spring and autumn when the plant is actively growing. Use herbicides at application rates recommended by the manufacturer and wear protective clothing. Alternatively, the plant can be dug out.

Control of this pest plant is not a one-off task. Follow up action must be regularly undertaken, for example, checking a cleared site for rhizome regrowth and seedling establishment.

Click here to view the Perrenial Nettle Factsheet (139 KB)

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