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Laportea mooreana (Hiern) Chew

Protologue
Gard. Bull. Sing. 21: 201 (1965).
Family
Urticaceae
Synonyms
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.
Uses
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.
Properties
Contact with the stinging hairs of the plant is painful.
Botany
Annual, sparsely branched herb up to 1–2 m tall; stem more or less woody at base, hairy, frequently with stinging hairs 1–2 mm long on protuberances 1–2 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 1.5–15(–17) cm long, glabrous, but distal part usually densely covered with raised stinging hairs; blade broadly ovate to triangular, 4.5–20 cm Χ 3–18 cm, base truncate to almost cordate, apex acuminate to caudate, margin coarsely toothed, with on each side 8–18 teeth 6–15 mm Χ 6–15 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 2–8 pairs. Inflorescence unisexual or bisexual, paniculate, solitary in the axils of upper leaves, up to 44 cm Χ 10 cm, with 10–20 side branches, axes often with raised stinging hairs; peduncle 2–5 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 1–1.5 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 1–1.5 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.
Ecology
Laportea mooreana occurs at 900–1600 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.
Prospects
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.
Major references
• Burkill, H.M., 2000. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 5, Families S–Z, Addenda. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 686 pp.
• Chew, W.L., 1967. A monograph of Laportea (Urticaceae). Gardens’ Bulletin Singapore 25: 111–178.
• Friis, I., 1989. Urticaceae. In: Polhill, R.M. (Editor). Flora of Tropical East Africa. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, Netherlands. 64 pp.
• Friis, I., 1991. Urticaceae. In: Launert, E. & Pope, G.V. (Editors). Flora Zambesiaca. Volume 9, part 6. Flora Zambesiaca Managing Committee, London, United Kingdom. pp. 79–116.
Other references
• Keay, R.W.J., 1958. Urticaceae. In: Keay, R.W.J. (Editor). Flora of West Tropical Africa. Volume 1, part 2. 2nd Edition. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. pp. 616–623.
• Letouzey, R., 1968. Urticaceae. Flore du Cameroun. Volume 8. Musιum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France. pp. 67–216.
• Terashima, H. & Ichikawa, M., 2003. A comparative ethnobotany of the Mbuti and Efe hunter-gatherers in the Ituri forest, Democratic Republic of Congo. African Study Monographs 24(1–2): 1–168.
Author(s)
• M. Brink
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands


Editors
• M. Brink
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
• E.G. Achigan Dako
PROTA Network Office Africa, World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), P.O. Box 30677-00100, Nairobi, Kenya

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.