Identifying Nettles


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    I got a plant from someone who said it was a nettle, but I am not so sure. How can you tell the difference between an Urtica sp and Dead Nettle (Lamium sp)? I assume butterflies only like Urtica.

    I don’t have a camera handy, or would post a picture. But the plants I have don’t seem to have any hairs or spikes, and the leaves, while a similar shape, are more rounded at the points. They are only young plants, so not sure if they will change as they grow. They have square stalks, leaves opposite each other, and don’t seem to have a purple tinge.



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    I don’t believe it is a small loss Angie…. one day the truth will come out about the poisoning of ‘green, clean’ NZ.

    Vicky – No, the Recovery Centre have no govt funding whatsoever. They survive on donations and sponsors. They never turn a bird away, native or non-native.


    Greetings all, I come from a different side where I have been working with North island robins and being stalked by Moreporks during the day! who were trying to eat the little robins.

    Mice, do an amazing amount of damage, they eat everything small from seeds to rare snails, reptiles, insects, whitebait eggs even to our beloved admiral!

    i am not saying that its good to poison the moreporks, just that the small loss is far greater in the long run I believe. In areas I have seen data for, once mice are removed from the ecosystem, Moreporks decrease in numbers but all other species increase %100 and a more natural balance is restored.

    I understand not everyone will agree, but thats my experience.



    That’s distressing to hear, Gill. It is probably beyond the means of most people to get toxicology reports done, and even knowing who to turn to can be difficult. I recently “coerced” a nurseryman into getting his swanplants tested and it was very expensive (for him). With plants, you have to identify what active ingredient (from pesticide) to screen for, but if you aren’t sure, or suspect multiple chemicals, you have to run more screens and that adds to the price. I’m not sure if that applies to animals/birds or not, but I suppose it could.

    Do the Whangarei Native Bird Recovery centre get any support from environmental agencies to help them with this?



    Hi linds,

    I don’t have the money to get laboratory reports… if you want to take this further, talk to the Whangarei Native Bird Recovery centre…. unfortunately they had a ‘run’ on moreporks taken to them… no sign of any injury and they suspected poison.

    We have lived in Russell for 23 years now.. years ago, the moreporks kept us (pleasantly) awake at night… we are lucky if we hear one or two nowadays/nowanights…. you can’t poison off one species without affecting the entire food chain.



    A very interesting and serious comment.
    Could you please state the laboratory where tests on the moreporks were carried out?
    Also could we view the toxicology reports? Perhaps they could be posted?
    What was your method for collating and comparison of morepork numbers?
    My strong impression when at various locations on the peninsula during the yearly Kiwi monitoring, is that morepork calls have increased significantly during the last six years.
    I would be interested in viewing your monitoring results.



    Thinking about this…. we have a scarcity on moreporks up here… due, I believe, to poisons being used for rats and mice. 6 years ago we had moreporks galore…. we are lucky to hear them now…. and I get them brought to me… poisoned. Why on earth do we want to kill off mice? Half dead mouse due to poisons leads to lack of food for moreporks and dead moreporks… humans!~ I will never ever understand their thinking 🙁



    Hope the snail bait is bird friendly Angie… birds eat the half dead snails and they too, are poisoned.


    Best way it to touch it!!! Its great so many people are getting into nettles, I am trying to promote a “be nice to nettle week” like they have in the uk.

    After 32 days of rain in Auckland, I finally got out into my garden today, Nettle alley at the back of my house has been devastated by snails, even thou I have put out bait every week. With so much rain it is just being washed away.

    Have spent the morning in the glass house trying to get ready for releasing my over wintering butterflies.

    Go the Nettle!!!!




    Hi, if your plant has no stinging hairs it is not likely to be an Urtica sp. Our admirals are not recorded as feeding on any of the lamium species.




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