False Nettle, Small-Spiked False, Nettle Bog Hemp
Synonyms of Boehmeria cylindrica: Boehmeria atrovirens Gand., Boehmeria austrina Small, Boehmeria cylindrica var. brachystachys Wedd., Boehmeria cylindrica var. drummondiana (Wedd.) Wedd., Boehmeria cylindrica var. elatior Wedd., Boehmeria cylindrica var. littoralis (Sw.) Wedd., Boehmeria cylindrica var. phyllostachya (Miq.) Wedd., Boehmeria cylindrica var. scabra Porter, Boehmeria cylindrica subvar. tomentosa Wedd., Boehmeria dasypoda Miq., Boehmeria decurrens Small, Boehmeria drummondiana Wedd., Boehmeria florida Miq., Boehmeria lateriflora Muhl. ex Willd., Boehmeria littoralis Sw., Boehmeria longifolia Gand., Boehmeria phyllostachya Miq., Boehmeria phyllostachya f. glabrior Miq., Boehmeria scabra (Porter) Small, Duretia cylindrica Gaudich., Duretia palustris Gaudich., Procris lateriflora Poir., Procris littoralis Poir., Ramium cylindricum Kuntze, Ramium elongatum Kuntze, Urtica capitata L., Urtica cylindrica L., Urtica distachya Spreng., Urtica filiformis Walter, Urtica mariana Mill., Urtica palustris Juss. ex Pers.
Boehmeria cylindrica (L.) Sw. is the correct and accepted scientific name for this species of Boehmeria. It was named and described as such by Olof Peter Swartz in Nova Genera & Species Plantarum in 1788. It was first named and described as Urtica cylindrica by Carl von Linnaeus in the second edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.
The genus, Boehmeria Jacq., was named and described by Nicolaus Joseph von Jacquin in Enumeratio Systematica Plantarum in 1760. Plants of the World Online by Kew lists 52 accepted species in the Boehmeria genus as of 1-18-20 when I am writing this page). That number could change.
The Boehmeria cylindrica is native to much of North and South America. The above map from Plants of the World Online, used by permission, shows where it is native in green and where it was introduced in purple. This species may be found in other areas not included on the map. The USDA map is somewhat different.
There are several good links at the bottom of the page for further reading written by people who know a lot more than I do.
I have encountered the Boehmeria cylindrica throughout my life but really never paid much attention to it. I decided to ID the wildflowers on the farm, and although this species would generally be considered a weed, I suppose it is still a wildflower.
The Boehmeria cylindrica is a nettle without the sting. Its serrated leaves are broad tapering to a point and are covered with very tiny hairs giving them kind of a rough texture. As you can tell in the above photo, there is a prominent central vein and two lateral veins coming from the base of the leaf. Leaves are connected to the plant’s main stem by long petioles. You could say “leaf stems” but you need to learn the correct terminology. 🙂 So, you would say these leaves are broadly ovate, lanceolate, broadly elliptic, petiolate, etc… They taper at the tip and are somewhat angled.
The leaf undersides are a lighter color, kind of chalky looking, because of the fine hair. This is called “glabrous” or “slightly pubescent”.
Leaves usually grow in opposite pairs from leaf nodes along the stems. These plant’s stems can be roundish or 4-angled and can be either smooth or kind of fuzzy (glabrous or slightly pubescent).
The inflorescence on the Boehmeria cylindrica are weird and easily recognized. I doubt there are any other plants you could mistake this plant for especially when you consider the other features. The inflorescence consists of small, green to greenish-white, dense flower clusters on short or fairly long spikes. Information online says plants can be dioecious or monoecious which means they can have male or female parts in the same flowers or separate flowers. Some websites say they are mainly one or the other depending on the site.
Flowers have no scent to they are pollinated by the wind…
Since this nettle is stingless, they are visited by deer and cattle on occasion. Several caterpillars species feed on Boehmeria cylindrica.
This species prefers growing in a shadier area in moist and fertile soil. Plants growing in more sun will have a yellowish color. The above photos were taken in the back of the farm by the pond where they grow in abundance. They are also growing in several other shady areas.
I have enjoyed photographing and learning about the many wildflowers growing on the farm and other areas. I have grown over 500 different plants and most have pages listed on the right side of the blog. I am not an expert, botanist, or horticulturalist. I just like growing, photographing and writing about my experience. I rely on several websites for ID and a horticulturalist I contact if I cannot figure them out. Wildflowers can be somewhat variable from location to location, so sometimes it gets a bit confusing. If you see I have made an error, please let me know so I can correct what I have written.
I hope you found this page useful and be sure to check the links below for more information. They were written by experts and provide much more information. If you can, I would appreciate it if you would click on the “Like” below and leave a comment. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. You can also send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would enjoy hearing from you.