Urtica massaica is an erect, herbaceous, perennial plant forming loose clumps of few-branched stems from a creeping rhizome. The stems grow up to 2 metres long and are covered with fiercely stinging hairs[
The plant is harvested from the wild as a local source of food and medicines.
The stems and leaves are covered with fiercely stinging hairs[
]. The sting is painful, but it wears off after a few minutes[
East tropical Africa - eastern DR Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania.
Grows well in gaps, on disturbed ground in montane forests, near human habitation, around cattle enclosures, in abandoned fields and in secondary bushland after clearing of forests in high-altitude areas, at elevations from 1,500 - 3,200 metres[
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Within its native range, the plant is regarded as a bad weed in pasture land, where it can be difficult to control[
Cutting back the older growth to ground level will stimulate the growth of new shoots that are more tender to eat[
A dioecious species, both male and female forms need to be grown if fruit and seed are required[
Leaves - cooked[
]. The tender leaves are chopped, soaked in warm water and washed. They are then cooked alone or mixed with other vegetables; coconut milk or pounded groundnuts may be added and the dish eaten along with ugali[
]. In some areas the leaves are only used as a famine food, though in other areas they are a popular vegetable[
]. The plant needs to be handled with care because of its stinging hairs[
]. The stinging hairs are destroyed by heat, so the cooked leaves are perfectly safe to eat[
A decoction of the roots is used as a remedy for stomach-ache[
The leaves are used to treat malaria[
The macerated roots and leaves are used for the treatment of hepatic diseases[
The plant is used alone, and also in mixtures with other species, to treat numerous ailments, including bruises, injuries, fractures, venereal diseases, rheumatism and urethral leak[
The leaves are used as a repellent against rats and for the protection of crops from grazing cattle[
Division of the rhizomes[
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