Wood Nettle (Laportea canadensis)


Laportea canadensis

One of the stinging nettles, so don’t touch it; but it is a very decorative plant in the deep woods, where its foamy eruptions of tiny flowers—sterile below, fertile at the top of the plant—make a curious and interesting sight. The large oval leaves with stinging hairs distinguish it from any other local nettles. These plants were blooming in the middle of August in the Kane Woods Nature Area, Scott Township.

Photographed August 17.

Gray describes the genus and the only species in our area:

LAPÓRTEA Gaud. WOOD NETTLE. Flowers monoecious or dioecious, clustered, in loose cymes; the upper widely spreading and chiefly or entirely fertile; the lower mostly sterile. Ster. Fl. Sepals and stamens 5, with a rudiment of an ovary. Fert. Fl. Calyx of 4 sepals, the two outer or one of them usually minute, and the two inner much larger. Stigma hairy down one side, persistent. Achene ovate, flat, reflexed on the winged or margined pedicel, nearly naked. — Perennial herbs with large serrate leaves, and axillary stipules. (Named for François L. de Laporte, Count of Castelnau, Entomologist of the 19th century.)

L. canadensis (L.) Gaud. Stem 6–9 dm. high; leaves ovate, pointed, strongly feather-veined (7–15 cm. long), long-petioled; fertile cymes divergent; stipule single, 2-cleft. (Urticastrum divaricatum Ktze.) — Rich woods, N. B. to Ont., Minn., and southw. July–Sept .


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