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Uses

Toxic parts

Although members of the nettle family, plants in this genus do not have stinging hairs[1].

Edible uses

Notes

Root - peeled and boiled. A pleasant, sweet taste[2]. We can detect very little flavour, but the root has a very strange mucilaginous texture that does not appeal to most people who have tried it[K]. Once in the mouth, it takes a lot of chewing before it is ready to be swallowed[K].

Material uses

A fibre is obtained from the inner bark of the stem - of excellent quality, it is used for textiles, linen etc and is said to be moth-proof[3][4][5][6][7][8]. Yields are from 375 to 900 kilos of fibre (per acre?)[9]. Two to four harvests per year are possible depending upon the climate, it is harvested as the stems turn brown[9]. Best harvested as the female flowers open according to another report[10]. The outer bark is removed and then the fibrous inner bark is taken off and boiled before being woven into thread[11]. The fibres are the longest known in the plant realm.[6][8] The tensile strength is 7 times that of silk and 8 times that of cotton, this is improved on wetting the fibre[6]. The fibre is also used for making paper[12]. The leaves are removed from the stems, the stems are steamed and the fibres stripped off. The fibres are cooked for 2 hours with lye, fresh material might require longer cooking, and they are then beaten in a Hollander beater[12] before being made into paper.

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

Antiphlogistic, demulcent, diuretic, febrifuge, haemostatic and vulnerary. Used to prevent miscarriages and promote the drainage of pus[13][11].

The leaves are astringent and resolvent[14][15]. They are used in the treatment of fluxes and wounds[14].

The root is antiabortifacient, cooling, demulcent, diuretic, resolvent and uterosedative[14].

Ecology

Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.

Forage

Nothing listed.

Shelter

Nothing listed.

Propagation

Seed - sow spring in a warm greenhouse and only just cover the seed. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.

Division in spring. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted straight into their permanent positions whilst smaller clumps are best potted up and kept in a cold frame until they are growing away well. Layering.

Basal cuttings in late spring. Harvest the shoots when they are about 10 - 15cm long with plenty of underground stem. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Grow them on for their first winter in the cold frame and then plant them out in the summer.

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Boehmeria nivea. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.



Cultivation

Requires a rich warm sandy soil that is very well drained[3][5][9][16]. Intolerant of wet soils[16]. This is a very greedy plant and can soon impoverish a soil. All plant remains, after the fibre has been removed, should be returned to the soil[9]. Does best in areas with high temperatures and high humidity plus a rainfall of 1100cm evenly distributed throughout the year[9]. Tolerates a pH in the range 4.3 to 7.3.

This species is fairly hardy in Britain when dormant, though it may require some protection in winter (a good mulch to protect the roots should be sufficient). The young growth in spring, even on mature plants, is frost-tender and so it is best to grow the plants in a position sheltered from the early morning sun[K]. The plant has been growing for many years in a sunny well-drained bed at Cambridge Botanical Gardens (which has low humidity and low rainfall), it has made a clump over 2 metres wide though it only reaches about 1.5 metres in height[K]. Boehmeria nivea, an extremely variable species, is widespread over large areas of subtropical and tropical Asia. Its complex species includes several infraspecific taxa, four varieties of which are found in China[17]. The sub-species B. nivea tenacissima. (Gaud.)Miquel., which produces the fibre 'Rhea' is a native of Malaysia and is not hardy in Britain[16].

Rami is much cultivated in China for its fibre[3], with a history of cultivation going back at least 3000 years[17]. It is also occasionally cultivated for its fibre or as an ornamental plant in Europe[18]. A very greedy plant, it requires a lot of feeding if it is to perform well[9].

Crops

Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Boehmeria nivea. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Boehmeria nivea.

Descendants

Cultivars

Varieties

None listed.

Subspecies

None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Taxonomy
Binomial name
Boehmeria nivea
Genus
Boehmeria
Family
Urticaceae
Imported References
Edible uses
Medicinal uses
Material uses & Functions
Botanic
Propagation
Cultivation
Environment
Cultivation
Uses
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Functions
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Environment
Hardiness Zone
7
Heat Zone
?
Water
moderate
Sun
full sun
Shade
light shade
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Ecosystems
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    None listed.
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Life
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    ?
    Herbaceous or Woody
    ?
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    ?
    Mature Size
    Fertility
    ?
    Pollinators
    ?
    Flower Colour
    ?
    Flower Type

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    References

    1. ? Britton. N. L. Brown. A. An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States and Canada Dover Publications. New York. ISBN 0-486-22642-5 (1970-00-00)
    2. ? 2.02.1 Reid. B. E. Famine Foods of the Chiu-Huang Pen-ts'ao. Taipei. Southern Materials Centre (1977-00-00)
    3. ? 3.03.13.23.3 F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
    4. ? 4.04.1 Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
    5. ? 5.05.15.2 Schery. R. W. Plants for Man. ()
    6. ? 6.06.16.26.3 Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable ISBN 0094579202 (1974-00-00)
    7. ? 7.07.1 Komarov. V. L. Flora of the USSR. Israel Program for Scientific Translation (1968-00-00)
    8. ? 8.08.18.2 Hill. A. F. Economic Botany. The Maple Press (1952-00-00)
    9. ? 9.09.19.29.39.49.59.6 ? Encyclopaedia Britannica. 15th edition. ()
    10. ? 10.010.1 Buchanan. R. A Weavers Garden. ()
    11. ? 11.011.111.211.3 Stuart. Rev. G. A. Chinese Materia Medica. Taipei. Southern Materials Centre ()
    12. ? 12.012.112.2 Bell. L. A. Plant Fibres for Papermaking. Liliaceae Press (1988-00-00)
    13. ? 13.013.1 ? A Barefoot Doctors Manual. Running Press ISBN 0-914294-92-X ()
    14. ? 14.014.114.214.3 Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China Reference Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-917256-20-4 (1985-00-00)
    15. ? 15.015.1 Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C. Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement). Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi. (1986-00-00)
    16. ? 16.016.116.216.3 Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    17. ? 17.017.117.2 [Flora of China] (1994-00-00)
    18. ? ? Flora Europaea Cambridge University Press (1964-00-00)
    19. ? Wilson. E. H. Plantae Wilsonae. ()

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