Common stinging nettles in Indonesia consist of several genera and many species. Their distribution is almost in every place in the Indonesian forest. Always interesting to learn more detail about them. It because I often saw and also get stung during my expedition.

The article is combining the information already available with personal observations while traveling in several areas. Please do not hesitate to give your input and correction. Perhaps there is some information that still needs to add.

Taxonomically, stinging nettles are the common name for species from the Urticaceae family. There are several most common local names for stinging nettle in Indonesia. The names are Pulus, Jelatang, Jelutung, Lateng, Kemaduh, Kemado, Jancukan, and Daun Gatal.

Stinging Netlles In Indonesia

Here Is The Most Common Stinging Nettles In Indonesia

  • Pulus (Dendrocnide stimulans)
  • Jancukan (Urtica thunbergiana)
  • Jelatang/Kemaduh (Laportea aestuans)
  • Daun Gatal (Laportea decumana)

However, using local names often overlapping and confusing when it comes to discussion and identification. In some areas, the names are sometimes the same but are actually different species. Or different areas named the same species but with a different name.

Synonym/Isotype And Local Name

One evidence as proof of why it becomes confusing is the synonym of Dendrocnide stimulans. From literature this species has many synonym, such as Laportea stimulans, Dendrocnide costata, Dendrocnide stenophylla, Laportea annamica, Laportea brunnea, Laportea costata, Laportea gracilipes, Laportea hainanensis, Laportea lanaensis, Laportea sinuate, Laportea stenophylla, Laportea thorelii, Urera stimulans, Urtica stimulans, Urticastrum costatum, Urticastrum sinuatum, Urticastrum stimulans

Stinging Nettles In Indonesia
Pulus (Dendrocnide stimulans) at the northern side of Burangrang Mountain

Kemaduh/Kemadu comes from the word “aduh (ouch)”. The first spoken word when stung by the stinging nettles. While Jancukan comes from the word “Jancuk“. Local profanity/swear word from the Surabaya area.

Daun Gatal is a more generic name to mention the stinging nettles. Meanwhile, Jelatang refers to the local language on the east coast of Sumatra. Only Pulus is the name without any correlation with the impression.

The 3 Most Common Genera

From several observations during the exploration in some areas, at least 3 genera were frequently found, namely Laportea, Urtica, and Dendrocnide. The Latin name may also be confusing because each one has many synonyms. In eastern Indonesia (Maluku and Papua), people know as Daun Gatal

From identification in the field, Pulus is a Dendrocnide stimulant, Jelatang/Kemadu which is common on the island of Sumatra is Laportea aestuans, and Jancukan (Urtica thunbergiana) is a popular stinging nettles in East Java to Nusa Tenggara.

Jancukan (Urtica thunbergiana)

It is easier to distinguish Pulus because, in terms of growth, Pulus is a tree and can reach 10 meters in height and has large leaves. Meanwhile, other stinging plants generally grow in the form of shrubs with small leaves.

The Distribution Of Stinging Nettles In Indonesia

Stinging nettles distribution in Indonesia is unique. The population of Pulus is abundant in West Java and Banten. Meanwhile, other stingers, such as Laportea aestuans are more common in Sumatra. Urtica Thunbergiana is very famous in East Java. The hiking track of Argopuro mountain has several spots where this species grows. Same as at Rinjani mountain.

Based on a report from Simareme published in the Papua Biology Journal in April 2017, there are at least several species of Daun Gatal in Papua, namely: Laportea decumana, Laportea sinuata, Laportea interupta, Dendrocnide peltata, and Laportea aestuans.

Stinging Plant In Indonesia
Kemaduh (Laportea aestuans)

There Are Several Types In One Area, But Only One Is More Popular

For example in West Java, besides Pulus, there are other stinging nettles also. However, because Pulus stings are the most painful and long-lasting, only Pulus is the most famous.

In West Java itself, the people recognize that there are Pulus Kebo, Pulus Ayam, Pulus Hijau, Pulus Putih, and Pulus Merah. After the interview and observe directly in some locations, only Pulus Merah, Pulus Putih, and Pulus Hijau seem to still be of the same genera. Meanwhile, Pulus Kebo and Pulus Ayam come from other genera.

What Exactly Happens When You Get Stung?

In general, these stinging nettles have sharp fine hairs (trichome) formed from calcium carbonate silica which is easily broken/broken. This trichome is a tube full of a thick liquid. Liquids containing two groups of chemical compounds. These two compounds are acid compounds and neurotransmitters.

When we accidentally touch the hairy surface of the leaf, the sharp hairs will puncture and break while releasing the chemical compounds in them. Neurotransmitters (Histamine, Acetylcholine, and Serotonin) and acid compounds (formic acid and oxalic acid) in thick concentrations will directly enter through the skin pores.

What causes the severity when stung?

The first is endurance. When the immune system is in good condition, the effects will quickly disappear. Both are places to grow. Based on experience, the more humid it is growing, the more severe the impact will be. The third is the season. The rainy season is the most dangerous season when it stings.

Imagine, this stinging nettle thrives with a trichome that is optimal in size and full of these chemical compounds. Especially when there are combinations of some of the factors above. Weak body, stinging in humid areas during the rainy season. The impact will be very dangerous.

The impact

The skin that was stung by Jancukan and Kemaduh would be red and bumpy. The impact will fade away in a matter of hours to days depending on several things like the ones mentioned above. Visually, the sting impact of Jancukan and Kemaduh, looks more terrifying than the sting impact of Pulus. However, the impact of the Pulus sting can last a very long time.

In general, the effects will disappear after 2 weeks. The longest record personally, is 2 months still felt. I once accompanied someone who had been stung all night. She had a fever and cried all night because of the pain she was suffering from.

There are reports that still need to be tested for validity, that this stinging nettle plant had caused death in Japanese soldiers during the second world war. Because they didn’t know, they made a roof shelter in the forest using the leaves of Dendrocnide stimulant.

For stinging nettles other than pulus (Dendrocnide stimulans), in some areas it is common as medicine. Laportea decumana and Laportea aestuans are popular as traditional medicines such as painkillers, reduce fatigue, and reduce aches.

Muryanto Paiman

always love to learn from nature.  Passionate on studying plants in some aspects: the DNA, Identification, propagation, and their uses


John · June 27, 2023 at 12:48 pm

thank you

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