False Nettle, Small-Spiked False, Nettle Bog Hemp
Synonyms of Boehmeria cylindrica (38) (Updated on 1-16-23 from Plants of the World Online): Boehmeria atrovirens Gand. (1919 publ. 1920), Boehmeria austrina Small (1903), Boehmeria cylindrica var. brachystachys Wedd. (1856), Boehmeria cylindrica f. cuneata F.Seym. (1969), Boehmeria cylindrica var. drummondiana (Wedd.) Wedd. (1869), Boehmeria cylindrica var. elatior Wedd. (1856), Boehmeria cylindrica var. genuina Wedd. (1856)(not validly publ.), Boehmeria cylindrica subvar. gymnostachya Wedd. (1856), Boehmeria cylindrica var. littoralis (Sw.) Wedd. (1869), Boehmeria cylindrica subvar. phyllostachya (Miq.) Wedd. (1856), Boehmeria cylindrica var. phyllostachya (Miq.) Wedd. (1856), Boehmeria cylindrica var. scabra Porter (1889), Boehmeria cylindrica var. tenerrima Blume (1857), Boehmeria cylindrica subvar. tomentosa Wedd. (1856), Boehmeria dasypoda Miq. (1853), Boehmeria decurrens Small (1903), Boehmeria drummondiana Wedd. (1854), Boehmeria elongata Blume (1857)(nom. illeg.), Boehmeria florida Miq. (1853), Boehmeria lateriflora Muhl. ex Willd. (1805), Boehmeria littoralis Sw. (1788), Boehmeria longifolia Gand. (1919 publ. 1920), Boehmeria phyllostachya Miq. (1853), Boehmeria phyllostachya f. glabrior Miq. (1853), Boehmeria scabra (Porter) Small (1903), Duretia cylindrica Gaudich. (1830), Duretia palustris Gaudich. (1830), Procris lateriflora Poir. (1816), Procris littoralis Poir. (1804), Ramium cylindricum Kuntze (1891), Ramium elongatum Kuntze (1891), Urtica capitata L. (1753), Urtica capitata Schwein. ex Blume (1857)(not validly publ.), Urtica cylindrica L. (1753), Urtica distachya Spreng. (1826), Urtica filiformis Walter (1788), Urtica mariana Mill. (1768), Urtica palustris Juss. ex Pers. (1807)
Boehmeria cylindrica (L.) Sw. is the 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.
As of 1-16-23 when this page was last updated, Plants of the World Online lists 51 species in the Boehmeria genus. It is a member of the plant family Urticaceae with 60 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO.
The Boehmeria cylindrica is native to much of North and South America. The above map from Plants of the World Online shows where it is native in green and purple is where it is introduced. The map on the USDA Plants Database for the United States and Canada is the same except it also includes California.
The map on iNaturalist shows where members have made observations throughout the world. Anyone can join and it is a great website to confirm and share your observations. The maps on iNaturalist are continually updated as members post new observations.
THERE ARE SEVERAL LINKS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR FURTHER READING AND BETTER POSITIVE ID.
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 (pubescent).
Leaves usually grow in opposite pairs from leaf nodes along the stems. The 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 so 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.
The Boehmeria cylindrica are still at it behind the back pond…
I will likely add a few more photos as time goes by.
I live on the family farm in Windsor, Missouri where I enjoy gardening, collecting plants, and identifying wildflowers. The farm is in Pettis County but Henry County is across the street, and Benton and Johnson aren’t far away. I have grown over 500 different plants and identified over 250 species of wildflowers (most have pages listed on the right side of the page). 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 few horticulturalists 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. Some sites may not be up-to-date but they are always a work in progress. 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 email@example.com. I would enjoy hearing from you especially if you notice something is a bit whacky.
FOR FURTHER READING:
PLANTS OF THE WORLD ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
INTERNATIONAL PLANT NAMES INDEX (GENUS/SPECIES)
FLORA OF MISSOURI (SPECIES)
FLORA OF NORTH AMERICA (GENUS/SPECIES)
WORLD FLORA ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
USDA PLANTS DATABASE
LADY BIRD JOHNSON WILDFLOWER CENTER
KANSAS WILDFLOWERS AND GRASSES
PFAF (PLANTS FOR A FUTURE)
FLORIDA NATIVE PLANT SOCIETY
NEW YORK FLORA ATLAS
ALABAMA PLANT ATLAS
NOTE: The data (figures, maps, accepted names, etc.) may not match on these websites. It depends on when and how they make updates and when their sources make updates. Some websites have hundreds and even many thousands of species to keep up with. Accepted scientific names change periodically and it can be hard to keep with as well. Some of the links may use a name that is a synonym on other sites. In my opinion, Plants of the World Online by Kew is the most reliable and up-to-date plant database and they make updates on a regular basis. I make updates “at least” once a year and when I write new pages or add new photos but I do get behind. We are all a work in progress. 🙂
No first hand knowledge, but research indicates this is a food source for butterflies.
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Hello, Betty. That’s interesting considering it doesn’t look like a plant that would attract butterflies. Take care and thanks for the comment!