Obetia radula (stinging-nettle tree)
Obetia radula in Ngurdoto Crater, Meru National Park, Tanzania
Obetia radula (Bak.) B.D.Jacks.
stinging-nettle tree (English); siyu (Lugishu); dorewa (Kamba); nakule (Rendille); ikope (Taita); elil (Tugen); amiandahy, amiana, ampy (Malagasy).
Not yet assessed according to IUCN Red List criteria, but thought likely to be of Least Concern.
Rocky hillsides in bushland.
Rope-making, basketry, medicinal.
The trunk and leaves bear stinging hairs, which can cause pain and intense itching to humans and animals on contact.
About this species
Tree-huggers beware – even the trunk of this tree has vicious stinging hairs, which cause both pain and intense itching. Think of European stinging nettle (Urtica dioica), which is from the same plant family (Urticaceae), and multiply! But from several steps away it is a pretty tree, looking a bit like a papaya tree (Carica papaya). It grows on rocky hillsides in East Africa and Madagascar and, amazingly, people have found a way of using the bark fibres for basketry and rope-making.