Stinging Nettle, Bull Nettle, Tread Softly, Finger Rot

Cnidoscolus stimulosus

Family: Euphorbiaceae (yoo-for-bee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Cnidoscolus (nye-DOS-ko-lus) (Info)
Species: stimulosus (stim-yoo-LOH-sus) (Info)
Synonym:Cnidoscolus texanus
Synonym:Jatropha texana



Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


15-18 in. (38-45 cm)


USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Blooms all year

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

Unknown - Tell us

Seed Collecting:

Wear gloves to protect hands when handling seeds


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Anniston, Alabama

Clanton, Alabama

Clayton, Alabama

Phenix City, Alabama

Citrus Heights, California

Bartow, Florida

Boca Raton, Florida

Deltona, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida(2 reports)

Keystone Heights, Florida

Lutz, Florida

Miami, Florida

New Port Richey, Florida

Palm Bay, Florida

Saint Cloud, Florida

Saint Petersburg, Florida

Satsuma, Florida

Tallahassee, Florida

Savannah, Georgia

Hershey, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Bluffton, South Carolina

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Arlington, Texas

Austin, Texas

Dripping Springs, Texas

Weatherford, Texas

Willis, Texas

Earlysville, Virginia

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On May 20, 2010, AverageAmerican from Huntsville, TX wrote:

I've been around bull nettle all my life and as a child learned the best way to kill the sting is to cover the affected area with urine. Yes, sounds nasty but when you get this on your leg you'll quickly find some urine to "cure" the pain.

A rather courious note, you can touch the stinging parts of bull nettle with the skin on your finger tips without getting stung, but NOT the back of the finger! We use to break a leaf off with our shoe and pick it up with our finger tips and throw it on the back of the neck of unsuspecting associates near by. Not may people can pee on the back of their own neck and most will not let anyone else do it for them so it makes for a fun time watching the painful choise play out...


On May 14, 2009, AGMAN from Zwolle, LA wrote:

Bull Nettle aka Stinging Nettle grows near my home in Sabine Parish, Louisiana. I rated the plant neutral for two reasons. 1. If the plant comes in contact with bare skin the consequential stinging and associated itching is downright unpleasant and, depending on the exposure, may warrant a trip to the emergency room--especially children.
2. My brother and I would use heavy leather gloves to rub the fine hair like spines from the tri-lobed mature seed pods. A propane torch works better (we have more tools now). Break the seed pods open to find a nut (seed) with an very crunchy, thin, brown, and edible nut covering. The inside of the capsule is creamy white and is delicious (something like an english walnut.) Everything except the brown capsule should be discarded. The nut is appr... read more


On May 30, 2008, PAswimmer from Hershey, PA wrote:

My 15-year-old daughter "discovered" this plant when she jumped into it wearing shorts and sneakers, to avoid being run over by a cow in a pasture. She immediately suffered the agonizing burning and ensuing welts over both legs. Ended up in the emergency room and now 3 days later is starting to have the intense itching to accompany this.


On May 22, 2008, wadeolsen from Titusville, FL wrote:

The "Tread Softly" is prevalent throughout the coastal areas of the Florida panhandle. I experienced, first-hand, how dangerous it can be to those who are hyper-sensitive by having a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction. I nearly died with-in one hour of stepping on this plant. I didn't know about Epi-Pens back then nor did the EMS crew administer anything throughout the 30 ambulance ride to the ER. Needless to say I'm not much of an outdoors' type anymore because of this and the threat of Fire Ant stings (one will kill me as well).


On Jun 9, 2006, WillowWasp from Jones Creek, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

This plant is just about everywhere you don't need it. It growes rapidly and each year seems to cover more area. I have sprayed it with roundup to kill it and have had some success. It is painful to get it on hands or feet and you will scratch and scratch to no avail. It will let up after awhile but I sure hate to get into any of it.
It is an herb that is used for medicines but you have to know what your doing or it is dangerous.


On Oct 26, 2005, c_etude from Winter Haven, FL wrote:

If you plant seeds in large pots in good quality soil, they can get quite large without becoming invasive. I consider these a good "watch plant" that can be grown near windows to discouage burglars. This plant-and to add to security--with poison ivy in pots, are even better. If someone goes where they should not be-like intending to burglarize, these crims DESERVE a face full of lovely aggressive stinging nettles. Mean plants can have their uses, and that includes personal protection. When it comes to personal protection, the meaner the plant...THE BETTER!

Of course, in order to remove weeds around stinging nettles, you need a good L-O-N-G hoe or weeder to stay clear away from these plants :-) but fortunately they aren't too picky about growing conditions :-) Why are these... read more


On May 11, 2005, JaxFlaGardener from Jacksonville, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I both respect and admire this plant. I've found it best to leave it where it wants to grow unless it happens to be in a spot where someone might brush against it. To me, the long-lasting burning sensation it produces when touched is nearly as bad as a bee sting and not worth the risk of pulling it up even with gloves. As an artist, I can greatly appreciate the "pure" white of its flower (or pseudo flower from what I've read in the descriptions here). Most other white flowers seem to have a slight tinge of pink, yellow, or green, whereas the Stinging Nettle is an unadulterated white similar to lead white in oil paint.


On May 10, 2005, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

The Stinging Nettle, or Bull Nettle can be dangerous if not handled properly, but in the right situation it is a fascinating plant, because of such beautiful flowers on such a dangerous plant.
The flowers look and smell like Stephanotis, and are not caustic at all.
I love to carefully pick them and smell them. A beautiful fragrant corsage can be made with them.
Bull Nettle is native to Texas and other States.


On Aug 24, 2004, broozersnooze from Jacksonville, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

My first experience with this plant was as a child, in Georgia visiting my aunt. I accidentally stepped on it. It was such a horrible experience I've never forgotten the appearance of the plant nor have I ever quit hating it.


On Apr 27, 2003, laneybob from Lake Park, GA wrote:

I have stinging nettle in my yard and it is such a pest. Once, before I knew how it could hurt you, I pulled a plant up with my bare hand. The itching was agonizing! My neighbor told me to get three different types of leaves and to rub the affected places with it and that it would stop the itching. I did as he said and it worked. I guess the oils of the other leaves acted as a type of neutralizer. Now if only I could get rid of these pesty plants! Laney


On Apr 26, 2003, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

"Cnidoscolus" means "spiny kiss"... Its highly recomended that the gardeners should use gloves to manipulate it and keep this plant away from children and animals


On Nov 29, 2002, FL_Gator from Dunnellon, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

This plant is a weed here. I have yet to see any form of wildlife utilize this plant. I am always removing it from the garden--very carefully because the stings are painful if "got."


On Oct 23, 2002, ohmysweetpjs from Brookeville, MD wrote:

All over my yard and not even pretty. I'm sure it does, but I have not observed birds feeding on the seeds which come from a green tomato like fruit. VERY invasive and painful stings.


On May 2, 2002, Lilith from Durham,
United Kingdom (Zone 8a) wrote:

A species notorious on account of the stinging hairs which cover most of the plant. Brushed lightly, the brittle tip of the stiff hair breaks off depositing a small drop of Formic Acid which causes the stinging sensation. Young shoots, rich in Vitimin C, can be eaten; the stinging action is destroyed by cooking. Some populations of the Common Nettle do not sting, but the reputation of the species ensures that those are rarely detected.


On Apr 20, 2002, Floridian from Lutz, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

This member of the family Euphorbiaceae, commonly called Stinging Nettle or Tread Softly, is one southeastern native to watch out for. It is an erect, weedy perennial that grows to 3' tall and is covered with tiny, stinging hairs. These hairs cover the plant and can cause a painful, stinging, reddish rash when touched. While not serious, the pain may continue for up to an hour.

The blooms are white and first appear in early spring and continue into early fall. The showy part of the flower is actually the calyx of the male flower which has no petals. The female flowers are lower and have neither petals nor showy calyx. The seeds of this plant are eaten by Bob white quail and several species of songbirds. Seeds are distributed by wildlife and the plants will regrow prolificall... read more