The population dynamics of the brown rot bacterium Ralstonia (Pseudomonas) solanacearum in surface water of two selected water-areas were monitored over a two-year period. In some cases during summer, high bacterial numbers (up to 106 cfu l−1) were observed. In a host plant survey a few plants of stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) were found to be a natural host of the bacterium when plants were growing with their roots in contaminated water. The significance of U. dioica in the epidemiology of the brown rot bacterium is not yet known and subject to further investigation. Pathogenicity of R. solanacearum to stinging nettle (U. dioica) and bittersweet (Solanum dulcamara) was demonstrated in a greenhouse experiment.