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the web of life in southern Africa

Obetia carruthersiana (Angola tree nettle)

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Eudicotyledons > Core Eudicots > Rosids > Eurosid I > Order: Rosales > Family: Urticaceae


  • A deciduous shrub or small tree, reaching a height of 7 m.
  • Bark smooth, pinkish. Young branchlets are bright red.
  • Watery latex present.
  • Leaves ovate or heart-shaped with tapered apex, lobed base, serrated margin, about 7 cm long by 10 cm wide, and covered with stinging hairs.
  • The very small, greenish-yellow flowers are in branching clusters.
  • The fruit is a very small oval nut within the remains of the flower.

Distribution and habitat

Native to Namibia and Angola, where it is found in semi-arid habitats, on rocky hills and mountainsides.


  • Flowers in September, before the leaves are produced.
  • Fruits from October to November.

Ecological interactions

No records.


No records.


  • Named after William Carruthers, who was a Keeper of the National Herbarium of the British Museum.



  • Palgrave, K.C. and Palgrave, M.C. 2002. Trees of Southern Africa. 3rd Edition. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.
  • Palmer, E. and Pitman, N. 1972. Trees of Southern Africa covering all known indigenous species in the Republic of South Africa, South-West Africa, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. Volume 1. A.A. Balkema, Cape Town.
  • van Wyk, B. and van Wyk, P. 1997. Field Guide to Trees of Southern Africa. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.

Text by Hamish Robertson