Massai Stinging Nettle

Urtica massaica

Massai Stinging Nettle, Urtica massaica, in Kenya, photo © by Michael Plagens

Observed in an area of rank weeds near Limuru Pond, Nairobi, Kenya. January 2014.

Leaves: The leaves and stems are covered with sharp hypodermic needles ready to inject a stinging chemical. The broad, oval leaves are heart-shaped at their base. Veins below are conspicuously raised.

Flowers: Very small greenish-white flowers are borne in dense, elongate clusters.

Habit: Tall, largely herbaceous, occasionally reaching 2 m tall.

On the Elgeyo Escarpment I found many plants colonized by gall mites that resulted in purplish blister-like growths on the leaves.

Nettle Gall Mite

mite-cause leaf galls on Urtica, Phytoseiidae, © Michael Plagens

Urticaceae -- Nettle Family

More Information:

Kenya Natural History

Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created on 01 August 2014.