Urtica pilulifera, whose globular inflorescences make it stand out from the rest

Urtica pilulifera also known as Roman Nettle, Balera Nettle, Pellet Nettle, Male Nettle or Pile Nettle . It belongs to the Urticaceae family. It is native to Europe, especially in the center and north of Alicante.

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The generic name Urtica is derived from the Latin “urere” which means to burn, referring to the stinging sensation that the plant leaves when it comes into contact with it. While the epithet «pilulifera» comes from the Latin that refers to the balls of the fruits.

Characteristics of Urtica pilulifera

Annual, monoecious and stinging plant that can reach a height of 1.8 m.

The leaves are opposite, heart-shaped, with a long petiole almost like the blade, with a serrated margin, with veins on the underside very highlighted with stinging hairs.

The flowers are dicline and small. With respect to the male flowers, they are composed of 4 greenish sepals, with trichomes and 4 stamens that form a branched axis.

The female flowers are globular, pedunculated inflorescences with two large and two small, hairy sepals. It blooms in early spring.

Urtica pilulifera care

It is a species  that grows in nutrient-rich wastelands. So it usually grows in altered media with many nutrients.

It requires being in full sun, since it does not grow in the shade.

As for the terrain, sandy or clay soils do well, with an acidic to neutral and humid pH.

It is propagated by means of seeds. To do this, they should be sown in the spring in a cold frame.


The parts that are used are the stems, the leaves and the seeds. From which the oil, flavonoids, lecithin, phenolic acid and its derivatives are obtained.

The leaves are restorative, diuretic, cholagogue, remineralizing, hemostatic, hypoglycemic and hypotensive. The stems have antioxidant action.

It can be eaten in soups (you just have to boil it and accompany the stew), being blood cleansing, for kidney diseases, gout, regulate blood pressure, treat anemia and relieve colds.

Topically stimulates the scalp and reduces inflammation of bruises.

Although it is worth mentioning that the use of the leaves should be young, since older ones develop sandy particles called cystilloliths that act as irritants for the kidneys.

Images courtesy of: Donald Hobern , Donald H…

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