Urtica dioica (Soi): Classification, Characteristics, Chemical Constituents,  and Uses

Urtica dioica (Soi): Classification, Characteristics, Chemical Constituents,  and Uses


Kingdom- Plantae

 Order- Urticales

Family- Urticaceae

Genus- Urtica L.

Species- Urtica dioica L.

Common Names: Bichu Butti in Hindi and Punjabi, Stinging Nettle


The stinging nettle, also known as nettle, is a perennial plant that grows in temperate and tropical wasteland areas all over the world. It belongs to the Urticaceae family and grows 2 to 4 metres tall, with pointed leaves and white to yellowish blooms. Because of the stinging hairs, the genus name Urtica originates from the Latin verb urere, which means “to burn.” Because the plant normally has either male or female flowers, the species name dioica means ‘two households.’ When the skin comes into contact with the hairs and bristles on the leaves and stems of nettle, it can cause a severe sting. Because of its significant impacts on human health in many places throughout the world, Urtica dioica L. has gained acceptance as a healing plant in recent years.

Urtica dioica

The species is separated into six subspecies, five of which have numerous hollow stinging hairs called trichomes on the leaves and stems that behave like hypodermic needles, injecting histamine, serotonin, and choline that cause stinging when they come into contact with people and other animals. For hundreds of years, the herb has been used as a diuretic and to cure dermatitis, arthritis, and sore muscles and joints. Stinging Nettle is now widely used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). The leaves, stems, and even the roots of the stinging nettle are used to make items.


Nettle (Urtica dioica L.) is a perennial wild plant of the Urticaceae family, genus Urtica, that is found throughout Europe, Asia, America, and parts of Africa and has adapted to a variety of climates. It can be found in temperate and tropical regions all around the world. It can be found in altitudes of 2,100-3,200 metres in the Himalayas from Kashmir to Kumaon.


1. U. dioica is a herbaceous shrub that originated in the colder regions of northern Europe and Asia and now spreads all over the world.

2. Urtica dioica is a perennial herb with opposite, cordate, pointy leaves that grow in pairs.

3. Stinging nettle thrives in nitrogen-rich soil, blooms from June to September each year, and grows to be nearly 3 feet tall.

4. The plant’s stem and leaves are covered in stinging trichomes, and the stem is upright and green.

5. The plant features bright yellow rhizomes and stolons that grow widely, as do the perennial roots.

6. The leaves are opposite, cordate at the base, oblong or oval, sharply serrated, dark green above and lighter underneath, and are dark green above and paler beneath.

7. Flowers that range in colour from reddish-brown to greenish-white. The dioecious blooms appear as racemes in the axils of the higher leaves and are tiny and green.

8. The plant usually has male and female flowers in distinct inflorescences, therefore the dioica name. Every year, between May and September, U. dioica blooms.

9. The months of June through October are when the plants flower and produce fruit. Individual blooms are either male or female, but the plant contains both sexes.

10. The young leaves are bright green, with sharp serrated edges and a distinct venation on the lower surface.

11. Erect and bristly glandular hairs that contain acetylcholine, formic acid, 5 hydroxytryptamine, and histamine cover both the leaves and stems. If you contact the plants without wearing gloves, they will irritate your skin.

12. Simple, opposite, coarsely serrated leaves; lamina is 1.5-20 cm long and 0.6-12 cm wide; upper leaves are curled up along the midrib, and below leaves are flatter.

13. Leaves are lighter in colour at the lower surface and mostly hairless at the upper surface, with veins raised below and a few stinging hairs; petioles 0.7-7 cm long, grooved above and along the sides with stinging hairs; stipules pale green, 5-15 mm long and 2-4 mm wide, paired, entire, pointed, erect, hairy; internodal length 0.5-8.8 cm.

14. Stinging hairs are 1 mm long, tapered to a fine sharp end, few to numerous, pointing upward, thick at the base; the stem is erect, hollow to solid, fibrous and stiff, typically simple or branched, bluntly square with 4 deep vertical grooves; 2-14 mm thick towards the smooth bare reddish-purple base;

15. The flowers are in full bloom and are green in colour. Each panicle is 2-8 cm long, four per node, and not longer than the subtending leaves; pedicels are less than 1 mm long and mildly hairy; subtending bracts (of flower clusters) are green, 1.5 mm long, and hairy; flower clusters are unisexual.

16. Fruits are achene-like, with one seed, and are 1-1.5mm long and 0.7-0.9mm wide, 0.3 mm thick, smooth, with a black marginal ridge, and very thin-walled.

17. The seed is tan in colour and fills the apple. Rhizomes are cylindrical and tapering, occasionally branching, and about 6 mm thick at the upper end, with a yellowish-brown exterior surface and broad longitudinal furrows in the internodes. Roots originating from the nodes are many, smooth, very thin, and wiry, with fibrous and tough fractures. The root is greyish brown, unevenly twisted, about 5mm thick, with noticeable longitudinal furrows, hollow cross-section, and white cut surface; fracture is fibrous and stiff.

Chemical Constituents

Flavonoids, tannins, volatile chemicals and fatty acids, polysaccharides, isolectins, sterols, terpenes, protein, vitamins, and minerals are the primary chemical constituents of Urtica dioica. Acetylcholine, histamine, 5 hydroxytryptamine (serotonin), leukotrienes, and formic acid are the chemicals that cause the burning sensation in leaf trichomes. Kaempferol, isorhamnetin, quercetin, isoquercitrin, astragalin, rutin, and their three rutinosides and three glycosides are the most common flavonoids. It has been discovered that shikimic acid derivatives such as phenylpropanes, caffeic acid, and different esters of this acid such as chlorogenic acid and caffeoyl malic acid exist. Carotene, hydroxycarotene, lutoxanthin, lutein epoxide, and violaxanthin are examples of carotenoids. Vitamins B, C, and K, as well as minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and sodium, are abundant in the leaves. Essential amino acids, glucokinnins, and high chlorophyll content are also present.

Medicinal Uses

1. U. dioica has a long history of usage in home medicines and a well-balanced diet. The extract from the powdered leaf is used as an anti-hemorrhagic medication to control excessive menstrual flow and nose bleeding.

2. In folk medicine, this plant was used to treat arthritis, anaemia, hay fever, and as diuretics, astringents, and blood builders.

3. A tea produced from the leaves of U. dioica has traditionally been used as a blood purifier and cleansing tonic. This plant is used externally to treat skin ailments, gout, sciatica, neuralgia, haemorrhoids, and hair difficulties, among other things. The plant is gathered for medicinal uses between May and June of each year while it is coming into flower and dried for later use.

4. The root is used to cure rheumatic gout, nettle rash, and chickenpox, and it is also used to treat injuries externally. Herbalists all around the world have long used this plant.

5. The leaf of U. dioica possessed diuretic and laxative effects, according to Greek physicians Pedanius Dioscorides and Galen, and was used to cure asthma, pleurisy, and spleen disorders in the first century. The leaves of the nettle plant are used as a dietary supplement as well as a weight-loss aid. This plant is now sold as a diuretic and natural medicine in Germany.

6. Rheumatism, arthritis, gout, eczema, anaemia, urinary tract infections, kidney stones, hay fever, and early stages of an enlarged prostate have all been treated with stinging nettle for hundreds of years (called benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH). Stinging nettle has been shown to have antirheumatic and antiarthritic properties in recent laboratory and clinical research. Riehemann et al. discovered that stinging nettle inhibited NF-B activation (a protein complex that regulates DNA transcription and cytokine production), while Randall et al. discovered that stinging nettle has clinical antiarthritic action.

7. In Turkish folk medicine, the herbs of U. dioica are used to alleviate stomachaches. This plant is also used to alleviate rheumatic pain, as well as colds and coughs, as well as liver insufficiency. Patients with neutrophil function impairment may benefit from extracts of U. dioica leaves and seeds, according to research. U. dioica has been shown to protect the rat liver from injury.

8. Because all parts of nettle (leaves, stalks, and roots) reveal a rich composition of bioactive chemicals with high antioxidant capacity, nettle has long been employed in the culinary, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical industries for its nutritional and health potential. Nettle leaves and stalks are high in vitamins A, B, and C, minerals (iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium), polyphenols like phenolic acids and flavonoids, and pigments like chlorophyll and carotenoids, according to previous research.

Question: What are the main constituents in  Urtica dioica leaf

Ans: Carotene, hydroxycarotene, lutoxanthin, lutein epoxide, and violaxanthin are examples of carotenoids. Vitamins B, C, and K, as well as minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and sodium, are abundant in the leaves.

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