Rigid Hedge Nettle

Rigid Hedge Nettle © DSchiel

Rough Hedge Nettle, Woodmint
Stachys rigida var. rigida
NATIVE

Description (Jepson, PlantID.net)

  • Eudicotyledon
    • Eudicots are a major lineage of flowering plants; see family for general characteristics
  • Mint Family (Lamiaceae)
  • Perennial upright herb
  • Whole plant can be hairy and glandular (sticky)
  • Stems are square in cross-section
  • Leaves
    • Opposite (2 leaves at each junction with stem)
    • Rounded shape (ovate to lanceolate) with toothed margins
    • Leaf venation is prominent on upper surface, appearing cobbled
  • Flowers
    • Inflorescence (flower arrangement) is spike-like, with flower clusters arranged in whorls (3 or more flowers at each junction with stem) at the leaf axils (branching points)
    • Bilaterally-symmetric flowers with 5 fused petals, in 2 distinct lips
      • Rounded upper lip of 2 fused, pink petals
      • Large, lower lip of 3 fused petals, pale pink-purple, with darker dots and lines
    • Ovary superior (above the attachment of other flower parts)
  • Height to 16 in.

Distribution

  • Native to California
    • Grows in shady, dry places in the understory of oak woodlands
    • See Calflora for statewide observations of this plant
  • Outside California, grows in Washington, Oregon, and Nevada
  • Grows at elevations to 7,670 ft.

Uses (San Mateo County Parks prohibits removal of any natural material)

  • Source of nectar for bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds
  • Native people made a tea from the leaves to treat headaches and sore throats

Name Derivation

  • Stachys (STAY-kis) – from the Greek stachus, “ear of grain” or “a spike,” referring to the spike-like arrangement of the flowers
  • rigida (RIJ-i-da) – from the Latin for “rigid,” referring to the stiff leaves or hairs
  • Hedge nettle – refers to the resemblance of the leaves to those of stinging nettles (Urtica species) in the Nettle family
  • Woodmint – used for several members of the genus Stachys, most commonly California hedge nettle (S. bullata), which does not grow at Edgewood

Notes

  • Unlike most members of the Mint family, rigid hedge nettle is not aromatic
  • The genus Stachys includes the common, non-native garden plants lamb’s ears (S. byzantina) and big betony (S. macrantha)
  • Edgewood’s rigid hedge nettle is classified as a variety
    • Subspecies rank is used to recognize geographic distinctiveness, whereas variety rank is appropriate for variants seen throughout the geographic range of the species; in practice, these two ranks are not distinct

ID Tips

  • May be confused with short-spiked hedge nettle (S. pycnantha)
Rigid Hedge NettleShort-spiked Hedge Nettle
Growth Habit≤ 16 in.≤ 20 in. 
Stemsgreengreen
Leavesrounded (ovate to lanceolate)

toothed

≤ 2 in.
generally lanceolate

finely toothed

≤ 5 in.
Flowersin whorls at intervals (like a pagoda)in stout, tIghtly clustered whorls
Habitatcommon in oak woodlandsuncommon trailside; in seeps along Clarkia trail 
Ridge Hedge Nettle (L), Short-spiked Hedge Nettle (R) © DSchiel
  • When not blooming, may be confused with emerging bee plant (Scrophularia californica), which has similar leaves
    • Rigid hedge nettle
      • Leaves are rounded (ovate to lanceolate)
      • Leaf stems are green
    • Bee plant
      • Leaves are triangular
      • Leaf stems are purplish-red, maturing to green

At Edgewood

  • Found in woodlands and grasslands
  • Flowers April – May

See General References