Pellitory of the wall Parietaria judaica, copyright Matt Lavin.

Belongs within: Rosales.
Contains: Lecantheae, Urticeae, Boehmeria.

The Urticaceae, nettles and related species, are a group of herbs and shrubs (more rarely lianas or trees) found in tropical and subtropical regions. They are characterised by the production of cystoliths (calcium carbonate crystals) in the leaves. In most species, the filaments of the stamens (or staminodes) are inflexed in the bud, eventually inflating with water to force the bud open through turgor pressure, but bud filaments are erect in the southeastern Asian genus Poikilospermum. Flowers are often unisexual but may be bisexual in the herb genus Parietaria which has the flowers subtended by leaflike bracts that contrast with the chaffy brown perianth and glossy black fruits. The Boehmerieae have been recognised as a tribe in which male flowers are 4- or 5-merous and female flowers usually have a tubular perianth more or less free from the ovary, but it is uncertain whether they represent a monophyletic group. Forsskaoleae have male flowers reduced and boat-shaped with a single stamen and tepal.

See also: Nettle, where is thy sting?

Characters (from Boufford): Herbs or small shrubs (rarely lianas or trees), herbs annual or rhizomatous perennial, usually pubescent, sometimes with stinging hairs, deciduous. Leaves opposite or alternate and spirally arranged, simple; stipules present or absent; petioles present. Leaf blades paired, equal in size (except in Pilea, which may have unequally paired leaves), dotted with linear or rounded marks formed by cystoliths (variously shaped calcium carbonate crystals inside epidermal cells). Inflorescences axillary or terminal, of paniculately or racemosely arranged cymes, or spikelike. Flowers bisexual or unisexual (staminate or pistillate), staminate and pistillate flowers on same or different plants; perianth hypogynous. Staminate flowers usually pedicellate; tepals 4-5, white or green; stamens 4-5, equaling tepals in number; filaments inflexed in bud, reflexing suddenly as flowers open; anthers basifixed, dehiscing by longitudinal slits; pollen ejected explosively; pistillode 1. Pistillate flowers usually sessile; tepals 2-4, hypogynous, greenish or reddish, distinct or connate; staminodes present or absent; pistil1, 1-locular; placentation basal; ovule1; style present or stigma sessile; stigma linear (rarely capitate); bisexual flowers: tepals 4; stamens 4; pistil1. Fruits achenes, free or loosely or tightly surrounded by persistent, accrescent perianth.

    |--Forsskalea AGF98 [Forsskaoleae, Forskohleae HQC03]
    |    `--F. tenacissima AGF98
    |--Parietaria Linnaeus 1753 A61 [Parietarieae HQC03]
    |    |--P. alsinifolia AGF98
    |    |--P. cardiostegia KM08
    |    |--P. cretica PT98
    |    |--P. debilis Forster 1786 [=Urtica debilis Endl. 1833] A61
    |    |--P. diffusa Mertens & Koch 1823 PL04
    |    |--P. hespera H93
    |    |    |--P. h. var. hespera H93
    |    |    `--P. h. var. californica H93
    |    |--P. judaica B00
    |    |--P. lusitanica PT98
    |    `--P. pensylvanica H93
    `--Boehmerieae HQC03
         |--+--Myriocarpa Benth. 1846 HQC03, KC01
         |  |    `--M. longipes HQC03
         |  `--+--Lecantheae HQC03
         |     `--Urticeae HQC03
         `--Boehmeria HQC03

Urticaceae incertae sedis:
  Soleirolia soleirolii [=Helxine soleirolii] H90
  Poikilospermum suaveolens T00, K03
  Boehmeriopsis YY22
  Droguetia YY22
  Gesnouinia YY22
  Hemistylis YY22
  Astrothalamus YY22
  Neraudia YY22
  Obetia YY22
  Sarcopilea YY22
  Achudemia YY22
  Chamabainia cuspidata DD73
  Cypholophus YY22
  Debregeasia S77
    |--D. hypoleuca SS72
    `--D. longifolia [incl. Trema (Parasponia) lancifolia Ridl. 1923] S77
  Distemon YY22
  Fleurya YY22
  Girardinia YY22
  Gyrotaenia myriocarpa J87
  Hesperocnide tenella H93
  Laportea LK14
    |--L. bulbifera T03
    |--L. crenulata DD73
    |--L. gigas D16
    |--L. interrupta LK14
    `--L. terminalis D07
  Leucosyke NB03
    |--L. capitella K03
    `--L. corymbulosa NB03
  Maoutia australis NB03
  Memorialis YY22
  Nanocnide YY22
  Pipturus NB03
    |--P. argenteus NB03
    `--P. repandus F37
  Pouzolzia LK14
    |--P. aspera SR07
    |--P. bennettiana DD73
    |--P. hispida DD73
    |--P. macrura B00
    |--P. viminea DD73
    |    |--P. v. var. viminea DD73
    |    `--P. v. var. fulgens DD73
    `--P. zeylanica LK14
  Sarchochlamys pulcherrima BB07
  Sceptrocnide YY22
  Touchardia YY22
  Villebrunea integrifolia DD73
  Rousselia YY22
  Oreocnide integrifolia NB03
  Australina Gaud. 1826 A61
    `--A. pusilla Gaud. 1826 A61 (see below for synonymy)
  Dendrocnide B00
    |--D. excelsa H90
    |--D. moroides N91
    `--D. photinophylla B00
  Antiaris toxicaria C06
  Urticicarpum scutellum Reid & Chandler 1933 CBH93
  Forskohleanthium P92
  Girardiana palmata SS72
  Sarcochlamys pulcherrima DD73
  Conocephalus A78
    |--C. naucleiformis A78
    `--C. suaveolens A78

Australina pusilla Gaud. 1826 A61 [incl. A. hispidula Colenso 1886 A61, A. muelleri H90, A. novae-zelandiae Hooker 1854 A61, A. septemdentata Gandoger 1919 A61]

*Type species of generic name indicated


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[HQC03] Hadiah, J. T., C. J. Quinn & B. J. Conn. 2003. Phylogeny of Elatostema (Urticaceae) using chloroplast DNA data. Telopea 10 (1): 235–246.

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[J87] Judd, W. S. 1987. Floristic study of Morne La Visite and Pic Macaya National Parks, Haiti. Bulletin of the Florida State Museum—Biological Sciences 32 (1): 1–136.

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[YY22] Yampolsky, C., & H. Yampolsky. 1922. Distribution of sex forms in the phanerogamic flora. Bibliotheca Genetica 3: 1–62.

Last updated: 6 June 2022.

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