Stachys hispida (Hairy Hedge Nettle)

Plant Info
Also known as: Rough Hedge Nettle
Family:Lamiaceae (Mint)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; wet fields, along streams and ponds, edges of woods
Bloom season:June - August
Plant height:1 to 4 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular Cluster type: spike Cluster type: whorled

[photo of flowers] Flowers are whorled around the stem, usually in groups of 6, in a spike-like cluster at the top of the stem and at the end of branches arising from leaf axils in the upper plant. Individual flowers are ½ to ¾ inch long and irregular; the outside of the upper lip is covered in short hairs, and the lower lip is lobed in 3 parts. Color is pink to lavender with white and darker purplish spots on the inside of the lower lip. There are 4 dark purple stamens under the upper lip. The calyx holding the flower is ¼ inch long or less, hairy with non-glandular hairs, and has slightly flaring triangular lobes that are at least half as long as the calyx tube.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are up to 6 inches long and 2½ inches wide, with serrated edges, a pointed tip and a rounded or somewhat heart-shaped base. The leaf stalk is up to 3/8 inch long, or sometimes absent altogether, and the upper leaf surface is covered in short hairs. Attachment is opposite, with a pair of leaves at a right angle to the pair below it.

[photo of stem] The main stem is green, square and has stiff downward pointing hairs along the angles but is smooth on the stem sides.


Hairy Hedge Nettle also goes by Latin names Stachys tenuifolia var. hispida and S. palustris var. hispida, but the accepted name in Minnesota is S. hispida. There are 3 species of Stachys in Minnesota; distinguishing features are the length of the leaf stalk and the hairiness of various parts, as well as more subtle differences in the calyx. Some references state S. palustris has white spots on the flowers and other species have purple spots, but I have not found this to be a consistent truth; both white and purple spots to some degree are common on all. Marsh Hedge Nettle, the most common Stachys species in Minnesota, has mostly stalkless leaves and stems with hairs on the surface as well as the angles. Hairy Hedge Nettle (Stachys hispida) has hairs only along the angles, is more roughly hairy, and has mostly short-stalked leaves. Smooth Hedge Nettle (Stachys tenuifolia) is mostly hairless throughout. Hedge Nettles are similar to Germander, (Teucrium canadense) but its flower has a distinctly split upper lip.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake Regional Park, Ramsey County.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Aaron - Southern Nicollet County
on: 2016-09-03 19:53:43

I believe I found this plant along an oxbow lake near the Minnesota River. It has square stems and hairs at the angles, but the tip of the spike was turning red. Is this common for plants later in the year? I have pictures.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2016-09-03 20:08:54

Many plants turn red as they begin to wither.

Posted by: Amy - Western Hennepin County
on: 2017-07-13 09:55:32

I see it along roads and have it in woods and popping up in my native garden. I like it, but wonder if it gets overpowering, if not invasive, so it should be contained by pulling if there are too many?

Posted by: Lauri Rockne - Mora
on: 2019-07-21 09:34:30

I have a healthy drift of it in my woods.

Posted by: Frank@Mound - Maple Plain
on: 2022-01-22 16:40:35

These descriptions are clear for Hairy Hedge Nettle and Marsh Hedge Nettle, although I find myself confused by the naming conventions. I have what I believe is Marsh Hedge Nettle at my place. It consistently has medium purple/lavender with white "spots," hairs all over, but with leaf stems that are variable in length. Prairie Moon's descriptions of Stachys palustris homotricha, Marsh Hedge Nettle, and then Stachys tenuifolia, or Smooth Hedge Nettle add to the confusion. At least I can tell these from Germander, thanks to your guide, that grows very well in disturbed areas around my place.

Posted by: Richard Devine - ROCHESTER
on: 2023-07-06 22:42:18

I have this growing on a wet area of Decorah edge in Olmsted county. The nomenclature is confusing, iNaturalist calls S. hispida 'marsh hedgenettle' and calls S. palustris 'marsh woundwort'.

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2023-07-07 14:39:43

Richard, unlike birds, there is no standardization of common names for plants. I often see names on iNaturalist that I never heard of before.

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