The Urticaceae /ɜːrtɪˈks/ are a family, the nettle family, of flowering plants. The family name comes from the genus Urtica. The Urticaceae include a number of well-known and useful plants, including nettles in the genus Urtica, ramie (Boehmeria nivea), māmaki (Pipturus albidus), and ajlai (Debregeasia saeneb).

Nettle family
Urtica dioica (stinging nettle)
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Rosales
Family: Urticaceae
Juss., 1789

Cecropiaceae C.C.Berg[1]

The family includes about 2,625 species, grouped into 53 genera according to the database of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Christenhusz and Byng (2016).[2] The largest genera are Pilea (500 to 715 species), Elatostema (300 species), Urtica (80 species), and Cecropia (75 species). Cecropia contains many myrmecophytes.[3]

Urticaceae species can be found worldwide, apart from the polar regions.

Description edit

Urticaceae species can be shrubs (e.g. Pilea), lianas, herbs (e.g. Urtica, Parietaria), or, rarely, trees (Dendrocnide, Cecropia). Their leaves are usually entire and bear stipules. Urticating (stinging) hairs are often present. They have usually unisexual flowers and can be both monoecious or dioecious. They are wind-pollinated. Most disperse their pollen when the stamens are mature and their filaments straighten explosively, a peculiar and conspicuously specialised mechanism.

Taxonomy edit

Male and female flower of Urtica

The APG II system puts the Urticaceae in the order Rosales, while older systems consider them part of the Urticales, along with Ulmaceae, Moraceae, and Cannabaceae. APG still considers "old" Urticales a monophyletic group, but does not recognise it as an order on its own.

Fossil record edit

The fossil record of Urticaceae is scattered and mostly based on dispersed fruits. Twelve species based on fossil achenes are known from the Late Cretaceous of Central Europe. Most were assigned to the extant genera Boehmeria (three species), Debregeasia (one species) and Pouzolzia (three species), while three species were assigned to the extinct genus Urticoidea.[4] A Colombian fossil flora of the Maastrichtian stage has yielded leaves that resemble leaves of the tribe Ceropieae.[5] In the Cenozoic fossil leaves from the Ypresian Allenby Formation preserve distinct trichomes, and have been attributed to the Tribe Urticeae in the fossil record. The leaves had originally been identified as Rubus by earlier workers on the Eocene Okanagan Highlands, but Devore et al (2020) interpreted the preserved hairs along the stem and major veins as stinging trichomes, rather than simple hairs or thorns.[6]

Phylogeny edit

Modern molecular phylogenetics suggest the following relationships[7][8] (see also [9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18]):

Moraceae (outgroup)




Urera pro parte


Urera pro parte






Urtica (including Hesperocnide)





Myriocarpa + Gyrotaenia


Pilea (including Sarcopilea)












Pouzolzia pro parte




Pouzolzia pro parte


Pipturus (including Nothocnide)

Boehmeria pro parte




Boehmeria pro parte





Droguetia (including Australina)





Tribes and genera edit

Diseases edit

The Urticaceae are subject to many bacterial, viral, fungal, and nematode parasitic diseases. Among them are:[20]

Image gallery edit

References edit

  1. ^ Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) (2003-01-17). "Family: Urticaceae Juss., nom. cons". Taxonomy for Plants. USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program, National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland. Retrieved 2008-04-24.
  2. ^ Christenhusz, M. J. M., and Byng, J. W. (2016). "The number of known plants species in the world and its annual increase". Phytotaxa. 261 (3): 201–217. doi:10.11646/phytotaxa.261.3.1.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ Chomicki G, Renner SS. (2015). "Phylogenetics and molecular clocks reveal the repeated evolution of ant-plants after the late Miocene in Africa and the early Miocene in Australasia and the Neotropics". New Phytologist. 207 (2): 411–424. doi:10.1111/nph.13271. PMID 25616013.
  4. ^ Else Marie Friis; Peter R. Crane; Kaj Raunsgaard Pedersen (18 Aug 2011). Early Flowers and Angiosperm Evolution. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-59283-3.
  5. ^ Treiber, E. L.; Gaglioti, A. L.; Romaniuc-Neto, S.; Madriñán, S.; Weiblen, G. D. (2016). "Phylogeny of the Cecropieae (Urticaceae) and the evolution of an ant-plant mutualism". Systematic Botany. 41 (1): 56–66. doi:10.1600/036364416X690633. S2CID 28743975.
  6. ^ DeVore, M. L.; Nyandwi, A.; Eckardt, W.; Bizuru, E.; Mujawamariya, M.; Pigg, K. B. (2020). "Urticaceae leaves with stinging trichomes were already present in latest early Eocene Okanogan Highlands, British Columbia, Canada". American Journal of Botany. 107 (10): 1449–1456. doi:10.1002/ajb2.1548. PMID 33091153. S2CID 225050834.
  7. ^ Wu Z-Y, Monro AK, Milne RI, Wang H, Liu J, Li D-Z. (2013). "Molecular phylogeny of the nettle family (Urticaceae) inferred from multiple loci of three genomes and extensive generic sampling". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 69 (3): 814–827. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2013.06.022. PMID 23850510.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ Wu Z-Y, Milne RI, Chen C-J, Liu J, Wang H, Li D-Z. (2015). "Ancestral state reconstruction reveals rampant homoplasy of diagnostic morphological characters in Urticaceae, conflicting with current classification schemes". PLoS ONE. 10 (11): e0141821. Bibcode:2015PLoSO..1041821W. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0141821. PMC 4631448. PMID 26529598.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ Sytsma KJ, Morawetz J, Pires JC, Morden CW. (2000). "Phylogeny of the Urticales based on three molecular data sets, with emphasis on relationships within Urticaceae". American Journal of Botany. 87 (6): 162.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  10. ^ Sytsma KJ, Morawetz J, Pires C, Nepokroeff M, Conti E, Zjhra M, Hall JC, Chase MW. (2002). "Urticalean rosids: Circumscription, rosid ancestry, and phylogenetics based on rbcL, trnLF, and ndhF sequences" (PDF). American Journal of Botany. 89 (9): 1531–1546. doi:10.3732/ajb.89.9.1531. PMID 21665755.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  11. ^ Hadiah JT, Quinn CJ, Conn BJ. (2003). "Phylogeny of Elatostema (Urticaceae) using chloroplast DNA data". Telopea. 10 (1): 235–246. doi:10.7751/telopea20035618.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  12. ^ Datwyler SL, Weiblen G. (2004). "On the origin of the fig: Phylogenetic relationships of Moraceae from ndhF sequences". American Journal of Botany. 91 (5): 767–777. doi:10.3732/ajb.91.5.767. PMID 21653431.
  13. ^ Zerega NJC, Clement WL, Datwyler SL, Weiblen GD. (2005). "Biogeography and divergence times in the mulberry family (Moraceae)". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 37 (2): 402–416. CiteSeerX doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2005.07.004. PMID 16112884.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  14. ^ Monro AK. (2006). "The revision of species-rich genera: A phylogenetic framework for the strategic revision of Pilea (Urticaceae) based on cpDNA, nrDNA, and morphology". American Journal of Botany. 93 (3): 426–441. doi:10.3732/ajb.93.3.426. PMID 21646202.
  15. ^ Hadiah JT, Conn BJ, Quinn CJ (2008). "Infra-familial phylogeny of Urticaceae, using chloroplast sequence data". Australian Systematic Botany. 21 (5): 375–385. doi:10.1071/SB08041.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  16. ^ Conn BJ, Hadiah JT (2009). "Nomenclature of tribes within the Urticaceae". Kew Bulletin. 64 (2): 349–352. doi:10.1007/s12225-009-9108-4. JSTOR 20649663. S2CID 10761027.
  17. ^ Kim C, Deng T, Chase M, Zhang D-G, Nie Z-L, Sun H. (2015). "Generic phylogeny and character evolution in Urticeae (Urticaceae) inferred from nuclear and plastid DNA regions". Taxon. 64 (1): 65–78. doi:10.12705/641.20.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  18. ^ Treiber EL, Gaglioti EL, Romaniuc-Neto S, Madriñán S, Weiblen GD. (2016). "Phylogeny of the Cecropieae (Urticaceae) and the evolution of an ant–plant mutualism". Systematic Botany. 41 (1): 56–66. doi:10.1600/036364416X690633. S2CID 28743975.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  19. ^ Deng Tao; Kim C; Zhang D-G; Zhang J-W; Li Z-M; Nie Z-L; Sun H. (2013). "Zhengyia shennongensis: A new bulbiliferous genus and species of the nettle family (Urticaceae) from central China exhibiting parallel evolution of the bulbil trait". Taxon. 62 (1): 89–99. doi:10.1002/tax.621008. JSTOR 24389315.
  20. ^ "Common Names of Plant Diseases: Diseases of Foliage Plants (House Plants): Urticaceae". The American Phytopathological Society. 26 March 1993. Archived from the original on 30 November 2011.
  21. ^ Chase, A. R. (1983). "Influence of host plant and isolate source on Myrothecium leaf spot of foliage plants" (PDF). Plant Disease. 67 (6): 668–671. doi:10.1094/PD-67-668.
  22. ^ Nguyen, Thu Ha, Mathur, S. B., & Neergaard, Paul (1973). "Seed-borne species of Myrothecium and their pathogenic potential". Transactions of the British Mycological Society. 61 (2): 347–354, IN14–IN16. doi:10.1016/S0007-1536(73)80156-1.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)

Further reading edit

  • Pignatti, Sandro (1982). Flora d'Italia (in Italian). Bologna: Edagricole. ISBN 978-88-506-2449-2.
  • Friis, Ib (1989). Urticaceae. Flora of tropical East Africa. Rotterdam: A.A. Balkema and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. ISBN 978-90-6191-352-8.

External links edit