Urtica pilulifera, Urtica dodartii, Roman nettle,
Hebrew: סרפד הכדורים, Arabic: حريق

Scientific name:  Urtica pilulifera L.
Synonym name:  Urtica dodartii L.
Common name:  Roman nettle
Hebrew name:  סרפד הכדורים
Arabic name:  حريق
Plant Family:  Urticaceae, סרפדיים

Urtica pilulifera, Urtica dodartii, Roman nettle , סרפד הכדורים, حريق

Life form:  Annual
Stems:  Up to 30-80 cm high
Leaves:  Opposite
Inflorescence:  Racemes unisexual; female long-pedunculate with flowers in globose heads; male spicate
Flowers:  Green; female flowers with inflated perianth
Fruits / pods:  Achenes, wide ovoid
Flowering Period:   January, February, March, April, May, June, July
Habitat:  Nutrient-rich soils, ruderal
Distribution:  The Mediterranean Woodlands and Shrublands, Semi-steppe shrublands, Shrub-steppes, Deserts and extreme deserts
Chorotype:   Euro-Siberian - Med - Irano-Turanian
Summer shedding:  Ephemeral

Flowers Israel, Nature, Travel


Derivation of the botanical name:
Urtica, uro, I burn, alluding to the nettle's sting; stinging nettle. Their capability to sting makes them useful for metaphors.
dodartii, named for Denis Dodart (1634 – 1707), a French physician, naturalist and botanist.
pilulifera, pilula, a little ball, a pill; fero, to bear, carry, bring; with little balls.
  • The standard author abbreviation L. is used to indicate Carl Linnaeus (1707 – 1778), a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist, the father of modern taxonomy.
There are four species of true nettles found in Israel: Urtica pilulifera, Urtica urens, Urtica membranacea (Urtica caudata, Urtica dubia), and Urtica kioviensis. They are all common pests of waste places and fields.
In the Bible three different Hebrew names are quoted: Sirpad (סרפד)- in Isaiah 55:13; Seravim (סרבים)- in Ezekiel 2:6; Harul (הרול)-Zephaniah 2:9. They are synonyms, the roots s-r-f and h-a-r both meaning 'scorching' or 'burning'.

Bible resources:
  1. Isaiah 55:13
    Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
    This will be for the LORD's renown, for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed.
  2. Ezekiel 2:6
    And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words.
    Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions.
  3. Hosea 9:6
    Even if they escape from destruction, Egypt will gather them, and Memphis will bury them.
    Their treasures of silver will be taken over by briers, and thorns will overrun their tents.
  4. Zephaniah 2:9
    Surely Moab will become like Sodom, the Ammonites like Gomorrah—
    a place of nettles and salt pits, a wasteland forever.

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