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Ongaonga leaves and spines
Ongaonga leaves and spines
Plant Info
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Scientific classification
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Kingdom: Plantae
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Division: Magnoliophyta
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Class: Magnoliopsida
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Superorder: {{{superordo}}}
Order: Rosales
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Superfamily: {{{superfamilia}}}
Family: Urticaceae
Subfamily: {{{subfamilia}}}
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Genus: Urtica
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Species: U. ferox
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Binomial name
Urtica ferox
Trinomial name
Type Species

Ongaonga, Urtica ferox, is a nettle that is endemic to New Zealand. Sometimes known as the 'tree nettle', ongaonga has woody stems and unusually large stinging spines, and can grow 5 metres tall. Even the lightest touch can result in a painful sting that lasts several days. It has killed at least one person who blundered into it, as well as several dogs and horses.

In Maori folklore, Kupe was said to have placed several obstacles to hinder pursuers whose wives he had stolen, one of which was the ongaonga.

Ongaonga is the main food plant for larvae of the New Zealand Red Admiral butterfly or Kahukura, Bassaris gonerilla.


  • Connor, H. E. (1977) [1952]. Poisonous Plants in New Zealand (DSIR Research Bulletin 99) (2nd edition ed.). Wellington: Government Printer. Template:Listed Invalid ISBN. 
  • Crowe, Andrew (1999-09-07). Which Native Forest Plant?. New Zealand: Penguin. ISBN 0-14-028631-4. 
  • Hutching, Gerald (1998). The Natural World of New Zealand. New Zealand: Viking (Penguin). ISBN 0-670-87782-4. 


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