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a family of dicotyledonous plants related to the family Moraceae. They are monoecious or dioecious herbs, subshrubs, shrubs, small trees with soft wood (rarely), or vines (very rarely). The leaves are alternate or opposite and simple. The tiny flowers are unattractive, mostly gathered in compound cymose inflorescences, and usually unisexual and regular.
There are approximately 45 genera (over 700 species), found almost everywhere, but mainly in the tropics. Representatives of some genera, including Urtica, Laportea, and Girardinia, have stinging hairs that cause a burning sensation when touched. In the USSR there are six genera (21 species): Urtica, Parietaria, and four genera in the Far East. Some species—for example, ramie—are spun into thread.