Urtica simensis is an erect, almost unbranched, herbaceous perennial herb producing numerous anual stems to about 1 metre tall from a creeping rhizome. All parts of the plant are covered in stinging hairs[
]. The plant can often form large clumps[
The whole plant is covered in hairs that can give a painful sting upon contact with the skin[
Tropical east Africa - Eritrea, Ethiopia.
Grassland; most common in disturbed places, often in large quantities near houses; at elevations from 1,500 - 3,400 metres[
The plant is considered to be a weed when growing in fields and pastures[
The plants can grow throughout the year where the climate is suitable, and can be harvested whenever there is a need. For collection the hands should be covered to protect against the stinging hairs[
A dioecious species, both male and female forms need to be grown if fruit and seed are required[
Leaves and young shoots - cooked and eaten as a vegetable[
]. The whole plant is covered in stinging hairs, so caution needs to be taken when harvesting the plant, but the stinging hairs are destroyed by crushing the leaves and then cooking them - they then become wholesome and nutritious[
]. The plant is generally viewed as a famine food, for use when nothing better is available[
The leaves are cut and spread between two hides on the ground and crushed by stamping or rubbing. After boiling for about 3 hours, the leaves are crushed once more to obtain a smooth puree[
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