Prota 16: Fibres/Plantes ΰ fibres
Gard. Bull. Sing. 21: 201 (1965).
Fleurya mooreana (Hiern) Rendle (1917).
Origin and geographic distribution
Laportea mooreana is distributed from northern Nigeria eastward to Uganda and Tanzania, and southward to Angola, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
The plant yields a fibre which is used to make cordage and string in Cameroon. In the past Laportea mooreana was cultivated for its fibre on the Mambila plateau (Nigeria), in particular for the production of fishing nets. In DR Congo the boiled leaf is eaten as a relish, and the young leaf is cooked with bananas and eaten.
Contact with the stinging hairs of the plant is painful.
Annual, sparsely branched herb up to 12 m tall; stem more or less woody at base, hairy, frequently with stinging hairs 12 mm long on protuberances 12 mm high; outer bark usually pale, greenish to brownish. Leaves alternate, crowded towards the top of the stem, simple; stipules lanceolate, fused for about half their length, up to 1 cm long, with a few stiff hairs on the veins; petiole 1.515(17) cm long, glabrous, but distal part usually densely covered with raised stinging hairs; blade broadly ovate to triangular, 4.520 cm Χ 318 cm, base truncate to almost cordate, apex acuminate to caudate, margin coarsely toothed, with on each side 818 teeth 615 mm Χ 615 mm, chartaceous, upper surface with scattered stinging hairs and punctiform mineral concretions, lower surface glabrous to hairy on the veins, on which raised stinging hairs frequently occur, lateral veins in 28 pairs. Inflorescence unisexual or bisexual, paniculate, solitary in the axils of upper leaves, up to 44 cm Χ 10 cm, with 1020 side branches, axes often with raised stinging hairs; peduncle 25 cm long. Flowers unisexual; male flowers in separate inflorescences in the lower leaf axils or in the lower part of bisexual ones, 4-merous, pedicel c. 1 mm long, perianth 11.5 mm in diameter, sometimes with stinging hairs; female flowers in inflorescences in the upper leaf axils or in the upper part of lower inflorescences, pedicel c. 0.5 mm long, tepals 4, sometimes with 1 reduced, unequal, the lateral ones c. 1 mm long, the dorsal one slightly shorter, ovary superior, 1-celled, stigma linear. Fruit an ovoid achene 11.5 mm Χ 1 mm, sessile to slightly stipitate, laterally compressed, on the flattened sides with a ridge surrounding a warted depression, dispersed with the perianth.
Laportea comprises 22 species, the majority of them in Africa and Madagascar. Several species are used for their fibre, as vegetables, and in traditional medicine.
Laportea mooreana occurs at 9001600 m altitude, in the undergrowth of rainforest, in riverine vegetation, on moist rocks in woodland or wooded grassland, and as a ruderal of waste places.
Genetic resources and breeding
In view of its wide distribution and range of habitats, Laportea mooreana seems not threatened by genetic erosion.
Laportea mooreana will continue to be of local use as a fibre plant and vegetable. Detailed information on its properties is lacking, however, making it difficult to assess the prospects. The presence of stinging hairs makes handling of the plant difficult.
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Correct citation of this article:
Brink, M., 2009. Laportea mooreana (Hiern) Chew. In: Brink, M. & Achigan-Dako, E.G. (Editors). Prota 16: Fibres/Plantes ΰ fibres. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.