Parietaria pensylvanica (Pennsylvania Pellitory)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Genus:Parietaria
Family:Urticaceae (Nettle)
Life cycle:annual
Origin:native
Habitat:part shade, shade; disturbed soil; woods, thickets, waste areas
Bloom season:May - September
Plant height:6 to 18 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FAC MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: indistinct Cluster type: whorled

[photo of flowers] Tiny indistinct flowers compactly clustered in the mid and upper leaf axils, the cluster surrounded by a leafy bract. Separate male and female flowers may be present as well as flowers with both male and female parts (perfect). The bract lobes are narrow with pointed tips and slightly hairy.

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

[photo of leaves] Leaves are thin, 1 to 3 inches long, up to ½ inch wide, mostly lance-shaped with a blunt or pointed tip, toothless, sparsely hairy, on a stalk up to 1 inch long, alternately attached, with 3 distinct veins coming from the base. Stems are weak and erect to reclining, sparsely hairy, sometimes branched but typically not.

Notes:

Pennsylvania Pellitory is generally considered a (native) urban weed, popping up in disturbed soil along the sides of buildings, woods and thickets, and gardens. It has a preference for light shade and can form colonies where there is little competition. I first noticed it in my own suburban back yard after clearing out an area to plant new shrubs. It is a persistent annual but not very aggressive like invasive species are. It is similar in structure to Three-seeded Mercury (Acalypha rhomboidea) which is a larger plant with toothed leaves. It is also in the same family as Stinging Nettle, but does not have stinging hairs.

Please visit our sponsors

  • Minnesota Native Plant Society

Where to buy native seed and plants ↓

Map of native plant purveyors in the upper midwest

  • Itasca Ladyslipper Farm - Native orchids, container grown
  • Prairie Restorations - Bringing people together with the land
  • Shop for native seeds and plants at PrairieMoon.com!
  • Shooting Star Native Seeds - Native Prairie Grass and Wildflower Seeds
  • Morning Sky Greenery - Native Prairie Plants

More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Vadnais/Snail Lake Regional Park, Ramsey County.

Comments

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

Posted by: Gabriel - South Minneapolis
on: 2014-06-29 20:04:07

This plant grows in many areas of our yard, and forms large colonies in shady areas under trees and raspberry canes. I considered it a somewhat annoying weed until I found out that it, like other nettle family plants, is a host for the caterpillars of the red admiral butterfly. I saw a red admiral laying its eggs on them, and I noticed a tiny caterpillar on one that I pulled up. Now I've decided to let the large colonies live, because I'd like to help the butterflies along, except when they're growing over other more desirable plants. They're very easy to pull up, because they seem to have shallow roots (even in very dry soil; maybe the roots are deeper, but just very thin and brittle). The bracts around the flowers are clingy and stick weakly to my hands when I touch them. I haven't investigated if this is the effect of tiny hairs or what. They don't have any stinging hairs; perhaps the clinginess is due to the same sort of structure that would be a stinging hair in another nettle species.

Posted by: Terri - Osseo
on: 2015-11-18 22:38:30

My dog seeks this plant out and eats it like candy. It seems to make her violently sick to her stomach. No one seems to be able to tell me if this plant is lethally poisonous (Long term) or just a big stomach irritant. Trying here to see if you all can help me. Thanks.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2015-11-19 06:19:35

We don't know if Parietaria pensylvanica is toxic or not. Nothing jumped out about this in a quick web search. Maybe ask your vet about it.

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the riff-raff out. An email address is required, but will not be posted—it will only be used for information exchange between the 2 of us (if needed) and will never be given to a 3rd party without your express permission.

For info on subjects other than plant identification (gardening, invasive species control, edible plants, etc.), please check the links and invasive species pages for additional resources.



(required)




Note: Comments or information about plants outside of Minnesota and neighboring states may not be posted because Id like to keep the focus of this web site centered on Minnesota. Thanks for your understanding.