Boehmeria virgata subsp. macrophylla – False Nettle

Other notes

Other Name Combinations: Boehmeria macrophylla (Wilmort-Dear & Friis 2013; WFO, 2024).

Taxonomic Information:
Wilmot-Dear & Friis (2013) classified Boehmeria virgata into two subspecies: subsp. virgata and subsp. macrophylla. These subspecies have distinct distributions, with subsp. virgata (comprising 4 varieties) predominantly found to the east of Wallace's Line, while subsp. macrophylla (including 10 varieties) is mainly distributed to the west. Despite the recognition of distinct varieties, the presence of intermediate forms and the complex pattern of variation make their identification beyond subspecies rank challenging. Therefore, this page hosts all images belonging to this species from India. The following varieties are found in India:
a) B. virgata var. canescens - Eastern Himalayas: India (Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh), Nepal, Bhutan
b) B. virgata var. longissima - Southern India (Kerala, Tamil Nadu), Sri Lanka
c) B. virgata var. macrostachya - India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka
d) B. virgata var. minuticymosa - Northern India, Nepal, Southeast Asia, South China
e) B. virgata var. rotundifolia - Eastern Himalayas: India (Sikkim), Nepal, Bhutan, Burma; south-western China
f) B. virgata var. scabrella - Eastern and western Himalayas: northern India, Nepal; southern China, Indonesia

Natural History: Native Perennial Sub-shrub.
It is a perennial shrub, found in tropical rainforests across India to Indochina. Its leaves, varying from ovate to elliptic, with dentate margins. The inflorescence consists of unisexual flower clusters on erect or pendulous axes. Male flowers feature prominent, knob-like appendages, while female flowers are small and ovoid. This species exhibits remarkable variation in leaf shape and inflorescence within and among varieties (Wilmort-Dear & Friis 2013; Flowers of India 2024).

Notes: This plant has been recorded as a new larval host plant for Neptis clinia – Sullied Sailer by Aditya Kanwal and Abhay Soman from Solan, Himachal Pradesh in January 2018 (note added on 17 Jan 2023) and for Symbrenthia lilaea – Northern Common Jester by Rajesh Prabhakar Mahajan from Solan, Himachal Pradesh in October 2023 (note added on 01 Mar 2024).

Flowers of India (2024): False Nettle. Accessed on 29 Feb 2024. URL: [cited as B. virgata var. macrostachya]
Robinson, G.S., P.R. Ackery, I. Kitching, G.W. Beccaloni, and L.M. Hernández. (2023). HOSTS - a Database of the World's Lepidopteran Hostplants. Natural History Museum. URL: [cited as Boehmeria macrophylla]
WFO (2024): Boehmeria virgata subsp. macrophylla (Hornem.) Friis & Wilmot-Dear. Accessed on 29 Feb 2024. URL:
Wilmort-Dear and Friis. (2013). The Old World species of Boehmeria (Urticaceae, tribus Boehmerieae). A taxonomic revision. Blumea, 58 (2): 85-216. DOI: DOI:10.3767/000651913X674116.

Page citation

Kanwal, A., A. Soman, R. P. Mahajan, and N. Kawthankar. 2024. Boehmeria virgata subsp. macrophylla (Hornem.) Friis & Wilmot-Dear – False Nettle. In Kunte, K., S. Sondhi, and P. Roy (Chief Editors). Butterflies of India, v. 4.12. Published by the Indian Foundation for Butterflies. URL:, accessed 2024/03/02.