The flowers are small, green, monoecious or dioecious, in branching, clustered, axillary, interrupted spikes, longer than the petioles.

This is a well-known plant, common to Europe and the United States, growing in waste places, by woodsides, in hedges, and in gardens, flowering from June to September. A decoction of the plant, strongly salted, will quickly coagulate milk without imparting to it any unpleasant flavor. The leaves and root are generally used, and yield their virtues to water.

A fabric, known as nettle-cloth, has been woven from the bast fibers of nettle. The young shoots have been boiled and eaten as a remedy for scurvy. The irritation caused by rubbing the sharp hairs of the nettle on the skin, is believed to be caused by the free formic acid which they contain.