Urtica ferox (Tree Nettle)

Scientific Name

Urtica ferox G.Forst.

Common Names

Tree Nettle, Ongaonga

Scientific Classification

Family: Urticaceae
Genus: Urtica


Color: Green
Bloom Time: Late spring to early fall


Urtica ferox is a small soft-wooded tree or shrub, up to 9.8 feet (3 m) tall, with a trunk that grows up to 5 inches (12.5 cm) in diameter. It has many branches. Leaves are up to 5 inches (12.5 cm) long and up to 2 inches (5 cm) wide. The leaves, branches, and branchlets all have stout stinging hairs which are silicified. Flowers arise from the leaf axils, on up to 3.2 inches (8 cm) long spikes. There are male and female flowers. Like other parts of the tree, the flower spikes bear stinging hairs. Flowering is from late spring to early fall.

Urtica ferox - Tree Nettle
Photo via nzplants.auckland.ac.nz


USDA hardiness zone 8a to 11b: from 10 °F (−12.2 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Nettles prefer fertile soil with good moisture content and especially favors the edges of streams or nutrient-dense pastures.

Nettle seeds are tiny, light dependant germinators that can be started indoors or out. However, select your location carefully as Nettles are very hardy and can spread quickly with the right conditions. Nettle can be assisted with stratification, but it is not necessary.

To start, tamp the small seeds lightly into the soil or cover with a thin layer of soil (0.25 inch/6 mm). If starting indoors, sow in flats in late winter and transplant in early spring—space plants approximately 8 inches (20 cm) apart.

If direct sowing, seed in spring and thin as desired and plant rows 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart. It recommended finding a permanent spot with rich, moist conditions a little away from (or on the periphery of) your other herbs. See more at How to Grow and Care for Stinging Nettle.


It is endemic to New Zealand.


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