Prota 2: Vegetables/Légumes
Nord. Journ. Bot. 7: 126 (1987).
Elatostema trinervis Hochst. (1844), Urera cameroonensis Wedd. (1869).
Origin and geographic distribution
Urera trinervis is widely distributed in the lowland forest regions of tropical Africa, from Ghana east to south-western Ethiopia, and south to South Africa (Natal).
Urera trinervis is occasionally used in DR Congo as a cooked vegetable. The bark fibre is used for making ropes and is esteemed in both DR Congo and Nigeria for making fishing lines. In Cameroon the leaves are used to treat scabies. In Tanzania the Shambaa people chew the leaves and swallow the juice to treat bilious disorders. In Nigeria the leaf-sap is drunk to treat intestinal disorders. The stems yield potable water when cut; in Congo this water is drunk to treat tachycardia.
Aqueous leaf extracts of the tropical American Urera baccifera (L.) Wedd. have demonstrated anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities, but nothing is known about the phytochemistry of the African Urera species.
Dioecious liana up to 60 m long; stem up to 7 cm in diameter, terete, attached by adventitious roots; stinging hairs usually only on inflorescences. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules connate, bifid at apex, early caducous; petiole up to 6 cm long; blade elliptical, ovate or obovate, up to 12 cm long, base cuneate, truncate or rounded, apex long-acuminate, margin entire, 3-veined from the base. Inflorescence an axillary, lax panicle; male inflorescence c. 6.5 cm long; female inflorescence c. 2 cm long. Flowers unisexual, regular, small, c. 1.5 mm long, 4 -merous; male flowers with c. 1 mm long pedicel; female flowers sessile, with indistinctly lobed perianth. Fruit an achene up to 2 mm long, surrounded by the fleshy perianth.
Urera comprises about 35 species and occurs in tropical Africa including Madagascar, tropical America and Hawaii.
Urera trinervis occurs in rainforest, riverine forest and coastal forest, especially at forest edges and in clearings, sometimes epiphytic. In tropical Africa it occurs up to 1600 m altitude.
In DR Congo Urera trinervis is sometimes cultivated for its bark fibre, but no information on cultivation practices appears to have been published.
Genetic resources and breeding
Urera trinervis is widespread and not in danger of genetic erosion.
Urera trinervis is likely to remain of local importance only as a vegetable and fibre crop.
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Correct citation of this article:
Bosch, C.H., 2004. Urera trinervis (Hochst.) Friis & Immelman In: Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (Editors). PROTA 2: Vegetables/Légumes. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.