Boehmeria cylindrica (Small-spike False Nettle)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Urticaceae (Nettle)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; wet fields, swamps, along shores, moist thickets
Bloom season:July - September
Plant height:16 to 40 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACW MW: OBL NCNE: OBL
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: indistinct Cluster type: spike

[photo of flowers] Minute green to whitish flowers are in spikes 2 to 4 inches long that arise from the leaf axils in the upper part of the plant, a pair of spikes for each pair of leaves. The spikes tend to curve upward. There are separate male and female flowers, sometimes on separate plants. The flowers may be crowded on the spike, or spread out in clumps. A few small leaves are often clustered at the tip of the spike.

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

[photo of leaves] Leaves are broadly oval to egg-shaped, to 6 inches long and 3 inches wide, coarsely toothed, hairless, have a rounded base, taper to a sharp point at the tip, and a long stalk. There are 3 main veins radiating from the base, usually with a few additional prominent veins on the tip half of the leaf. Color is often bright or yellowish green. Attachment is opposite, with each pair at right angles to the pair below it. The stem is smooth and 4-sided, with rounded angles.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

[photo of fruit] Fruits are small oval dry seeds sparsely to densely covered with hooked and straight hairs, that ripen to dark brown.


False Nettle may look similar to Stinging Nettle or Wood Nettle, but does not have stinging hairs. The Clearweeds (Pilea pumila and Pilea fontana) are also similar and lack stinging hairs, but are typically smaller plants with translucent stems, branching flower clusters, and the venation on the leaves differs in that the lateral veins are more or less evenly spaced from the leaf edge all the way around.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake Regional Park, Ramsey County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken at Westwood Hills Nature Center, Hennepin County.


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

Posted by: Elizabeth - Grey Cloud Island Township
on: 2015-08-26 22:29:27

Terrible and invasive. I guess I need to get it all pulled before it goes to seed! Too late this year.

on: 2018-07-17 15:00:30

I just noticed the comment from Elizabeth before me and wondered if she has this confused with Clearweed - Pilea pumila Either way both species are important sources of food for several caterpillars.

Posted by: Susan M Smith - McGrath, MN Aitkin County
on: 2021-08-07 19:31:50

We have these along the river bottom of the Snake River.

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