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the web of life in southern Africa

Pouzolzia mixta (Soap-nettle)

[= Pouzolzia hypoleuca]

Seepnetel, Wildebraam [Afrikaans]; isikukuku [Ndabele]; Nthadzwa [Tswana]; Muthanzwa, Murovhadembe [Venda]

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 multi-stemmed shrub or small tree, growing to a maximum height of about 4 m
  • The bark is smooth, dark reddish-brown. The branchlets have a velvety surface.
  • Watery latex present.
  • The leaves are simple, spirally arranged and ovate with a tapering apex and lobed base, 3-veined from the base, and with smooth margins. They have contrasting upper and lower surfaces, the upper surface dark green and the under-surface silvery white-felted. Leaves tend to stick together and to clothing.
  • The flowers are small, greenish with separate male and female flowers on the same plant. They grow in dense clusters in the axils of leaves.
  • The fruit is a very small nut enclosed in the remains of the flower.

Distribution and habitat

Native distribution extends from northern KwaZulu-Natal, through Swaziland, Mpumalanga, Gauteng, Northwest Province, Limpopo, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and then further north as far as Malawi. Grows on dry rocky hillsides, in open woodland, and along dry stream banks.

Ecological interactions

No information.


  • Fibres from the bark are used to make rope and string and to make fishing nets.
  • The leaves are cooked as a green vegetable, often with the leaves of the related plant, Obetia tenax.
  • The leaves produce


Genus is named after Pierre M. de Pouzolz (1785-1858), who wrote about the French flora.

Species name mixta means mixed, possibly referring to the contrasting colours of the upper and lower surfaces of the leaves.



  • 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.
  • Schmidt, E., Lötter, M. and McCleland, W. 2002. Trees and Shrubs of Mpumalanga and Kruger National Park. Jacana, Johannesburg.
  • van Wyk, B. and van Wyk, P. 1997. Field Guide to Trees of Southern Africa. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.

Text by Hamish Robertson