Not A Nettle

Continuing our exploration of the coast redwood understory, also known as “our yard”, we have the California hedge-nettle (Stachys bullata).

This fairly common perennial herb is native and endemic to California, growing along the coast from about Mendocino in the north (though it really starts to flourish around the San Francisco area) all the way down through San Diego.

The California hedge-nettle is a member of the mint family and likes to grow in moist, shaded areas at lower elevations. It reaches about 3 feet tall and has large sandpapery leaves in opposite pairs up the stem. The pink flowers cluster up the stem in groups of six, blooming for about half the year from April to September.

It’s said that the leaves have medicinal properties and a poultice made from them speeds wound healing, and a tea can help with upset stomach.

Don’t be fooled by the name. The California hedge-nettle doesn’t grow in hedges and it’s not even a nettle. We do have stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) in the redwood forest, and they do look a bit alike, so be careful what you touch.

[Photo credits: me, joshuadavis5 from iNaturalist, and Deanna L. Pierce]

California hedge nettle stalk and flowers

California hedge-nettle leaves

Close-up of California hedge-nettle flowers