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Common Hemp-nettle

Galeopsis tetrahit

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Lamiaceae (Dead-nettle)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
1 metre tall
Fens, fields, gardens, heathland, meadows, roadsides, wasteland, woodland.

Pink, 2 petals
Pink flowers with lower lip, borne in whorls. Lower lip has darker markings in the centre. Similar in appearance to Bifid Hemp-nettle (Galeopsis bifida) but the only difference is that the lip of Bifid Hemp-nettle is notched.
A 4-chambered schizocarp.
Pale green, stalked, elliptical leaves in opposite pairs. Blunt serrated leaf margins.
Slightly unpleasant smelling.
Other Names:
Bee Nettle, Blind Nettle, Brittlestem Hempnettle, Day Nettle, Dog Nettle, Flowering Nettle, Glidewort, Holyrope.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Galeopsis tetrahit, also known as common hemp-nettle, is a species of perennial herb in the Lamiaceae family. It is native to Europe, Asia and North Africa. The plant can grow up to 1 meter tall and has small, yellowish-green or pale purple flowers. The leaves are green and have a rough texture. Galeopsis tetrahit is commonly found in a variety of habitats such as fields, meadows, and roadsides. It has been traditionally used as a medicinal plant, primarily for respiratory and skin conditions. The plant contains a volatile oil that has expectorant properties, which makes it useful for treating respiratory problems such as coughs and colds. It also has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, which make it useful for treating skin conditions such as eczema and dermatitis. However, it is not a source of THC, the primary psychoactive component of marijuana.


Common Hemp-nettle, also known as Galeopsis tetrahit, is a flowering plant that belongs to the family Lamiaceae. It is a common weed found in agricultural fields, gardens, and waste places throughout Europe, Asia, and North America. Despite being considered a weed by many, Common Hemp-nettle has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb and a source of food.

Appearance and Characteristics

Common Hemp-nettle is an annual plant that grows up to 1 meter tall. It has a square-shaped stem that is covered in short hairs, and its leaves are opposite, toothed, and roughly oval-shaped. The flowers are pink or purplish, tubular in shape, and grow in whorls around the stem. The plant blooms from June to October, producing numerous small seeds that are spread by wind or by attaching themselves to animals or clothing.


Common Hemp-nettle has a long history of use as a medicinal herb. Its leaves, stems, and flowers contain several bioactive compounds, including flavonoids, phenolic acids, and essential oils, that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antispasmodic properties. It has been used to treat a range of ailments, including fever, headaches, digestive disorders, and menstrual cramps.

In addition to its medicinal uses, Common Hemp-nettle has also been used as a food source. Its young leaves and shoots can be eaten raw or cooked, and its seeds can be ground into flour and used to make bread or porridge. In some parts of Europe, the plant is still used as a vegetable, and its leaves are added to soups, stews, and salads.

Ecological Importance

Although it is often considered a weed, Common Hemp-nettle plays an important role in the ecosystem. Its flowers are a source of nectar for bees and other pollinators, and its seeds are a food source for birds and small mammals. The plant's extensive root system helps to prevent soil erosion and improve soil quality by fixing nitrogen.

However, Common Hemp-nettle can also be a problem for farmers, as it competes with crops for nutrients and can reduce crop yields. Its ability to spread rapidly and produce large amounts of seeds means that it can quickly colonize new areas and become difficult to control.

Common Hemp-nettle may be considered a weed by many, but its long history of use as a medicinal herb and food source highlights its value and importance. While it can be a nuisance for farmers, its ecological benefits and potential uses in medicine and nutrition make it a plant worth studying and preserving.

More Information about Common Hemp-nettle

Common Hemp-nettle is an adaptable plant that can grow in a variety of soil types and environmental conditions. It is a common weed found in disturbed areas such as agricultural fields, gardens, and roadsides. The plant is native to Europe and Asia, but it has been introduced to North America and other parts of the world.

The plant has several common names, including Hemp Nettle, Dog Nettle, and Brittlestem Hempnettle. These names refer to the plant's hairy stems and leaves, which can cause skin irritation in some people and animals.

In traditional medicine, Common Hemp-nettle has been used to treat a wide range of ailments. It has been used as a diuretic, an expectorant, and a laxative. The plant has also been used to treat skin disorders, such as eczema and psoriasis. Modern research has shown that Common Hemp-nettle contains several compounds with potential medicinal properties, including antitumor, antibacterial, and antioxidant activities.

In addition to its medicinal and nutritional uses, Common Hemp-nettle has also been used for cultural and religious purposes. In ancient Greece, the plant was dedicated to the goddess Demeter and was used in fertility rituals. The plant has also been used in some parts of Europe to make wreaths and garlands for festivals and celebrations.

Despite its many uses and benefits, Common Hemp-nettle is often considered a nuisance by farmers and gardeners. The plant can compete with crops for nutrients and space, and its rapid growth and seed production can make it difficult to control. However, with proper management and understanding of its ecological and medicinal value, Common Hemp-nettle can be a valuable addition to a sustainable and diversified ecosystem.

Common Hemp-nettle is also known for its potential as a biofuel crop. Its high biomass production and ability to grow on marginal lands make it a promising candidate for bioenergy production. The plant's seeds contain oil that can be extracted and used as a feedstock for biodiesel production. Additionally, the plant's stalks and leaves can be converted into biofuels such as ethanol and biogas.

Another interesting aspect of Common Hemp-nettle is its ability to phytoremediate contaminated soil. The plant has been shown to be effective in removing heavy metals and other pollutants from soil, making it a potential tool for environmental remediation.

In recent years, there has been growing interest in the potential of Common Hemp-nettle as a source of cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis. While Common Hemp-nettle does not contain significant amounts of THC, the psychoactive compound found in cannabis, it does contain CBD and other cannabinoids. Some researchers are exploring the potential of Common Hemp-nettle as a source of CBD for medicinal and therapeutic uses.

In conclusion, Common Hemp-nettle is a versatile plant with a long history of use as a medicinal herb, food source, and cultural symbol. While it can be a nuisance for farmers and gardeners, the plant's potential as a biofuel crop, phytoremediator, and source of CBD highlights its value and importance. As our understanding of this plant continues to evolve, we may discover even more uses and benefits for this common but fascinating weed.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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