Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Canada Wood-nettle - Laportea canadensis   (L.) Weddell
Members of Urticaceae:
Only member of Laportea in NC.
Google Images
Section 6 » Order Urticales » Family Urticaceae
Show/Hide Synonym
Author(L.) Weddell
DistributionThroughout the Mountains and Piedmont; ranges in the Coastal Plain only along a few brownwater river floodplains (such as the Roanoke and Cape Fear).

This is a widespread Eastern species, ranging from eastern Canada south to the FL Panhandle and LA, though is scarce on the Coastal Plains.
AbundanceCommon in the Mountains; fairly common to locally common in the Piedmont, though oddly scarce in the southwestern Piedmont. Locally fairly common along the upper Cape Fear and Roanoke rivers into the Coastal Plain, less so along the Tar River.
HabitatThis is a species of rich, often high pH shaded soils. It is most frequent in Rich Cove Forests and in bottomland forests in the mountains and Piedmont, and only in brownwater bottomlands and adjacent slopes in the Coastal Plain and nearby Piedmont.
PhenologyBlooms from June to August, and fruits from late July to October.
IdentificationThis is a very familiar species in the mountains, and in most of the Piedmont; most people know it when they accidentally brush into it and receive a painful "sting". It is a robust herb that often reaches 2.5-3 feet tall, somewhat branched. The stems are covered in stinging hairs. The alternate leaves, typically rather whorled near the summit of the stem, have a long petiole and a broadly ovate blade. The blade averages 4 inches long and 3 inches wide, strongly toothed, and with an acuminate tip. Male flowers are in small clusters in leaf axils, whereas the more obvious female flowers are in longer clusters at the top of the stem, above the leaves. Flowers are small and not significant for identification. The other members of the family have smaller leaves, and none have the rather long terminal flower clusters. The several NC species of Urtica also have stinging hairs on the stems, but the leaves are much smaller. Species of Pilea and Boehmeria do not have the terminal flower clusters and lack stinging hairs. The Parietaria species have entire leaves and are quite small plants.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Wood-nettle, Canada Nettle, Canadian Wood-Nettle. Most laypersons simply call it as "Stinging Nettle", but that is the group name for the Urtica species, not Laportea.
State RankS5
Global RankG5
State Status
US Status
USACE-agcpFACW link
USACE-empFAC link
County Map - click on a county to view source of record.
Photo Gallery
B.A. SorrieBlue Ridge Parkway, Aug 2014. AshePhoto_natural
Select a source
Select an occurrence type