Perennial plant of up to 1.5 m, with strong roots and long horizontal rhizomes. Stem straight, simple or branched, square. The leaves are opposite, ovate-oblong, margin coarsely toothed, with petioles, covered, like the stem, stiff stinging hairs containing formic acid and hurts when you touch them. The plant is dioecious. The flowers are small, with a simple four-membered perianth, gathered in large numbers in the intermittent spike inflorescence, male plants inflorescence erect, in female-hanging. Flowering and fruiting throughout the summer.
Common in Europe and Asia, is brought to the United States and Australia. In Russia, found in European and Western Siberia, entered in Eastern Siberia and the Far East. A common plant in all the regions of Central Russia.
Grows in housing, roads, fences, vacant lots and soil rich in nitrates. Characteristic of disturbed wet forests, especially alder, beaches and water gullies, drained peatlands neglected gardens.
Propagated by seeds (one plant produces up to 22,000 seeds) and vegetatively, forming extensive thickets.
Valuable food and medicinal plants. From young leaves and shoots are boiled spring green cabbage, as a treatment and preventive measure they apply in hypo-and avitaminosis. Medications Nettle is also used as kroveostanavlivayuschie and healing wounds, they are part of choleretic drugs. In folk medicine, the leaves and stems are covered with stinging hairs are used for treatment of sciatica and disease. It is also used to strengthen hair. Useful host plant, especially for pigs and poultry. Young shoots boiled nettles as increased milk yield of cows and increase the fat content of the milk. From the stems can get strong fiber for making ropes and coarse cloth. Leaves and rhizome formerly used for green dye wool.
Closely related species — Urtica pubescens Ledeb. — Nettle pubescent — geographical race nettle. Differs from it by a thick woolly hairs underside of the leaf blade, petiole and stem, as well as the characteristic form of the leaf blade: a long drawn-out tip, the largest island on the serrated edge. Occasionally found in the bushes, floodplain forests and in weedy places in the south-east of the European part of Russia and in the Caucasus, and to the north gets in weedy places, including the limits of Central Russia.
As an introduction to selected areas of Central Russia and the East meets Urtica cannabina L. — Nettle Konoplev with deeply 3-5-dissected leaves.