Urticaceae, commonly known as Nettle family, is a family of flowering plants. The species can be found worldwide, apart from the polar regions. The family name comes from the genus Urtica.

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The Urticaceae / ɜːr t ɪ ˈ k eɪ s iː / are a family, the nettle family, of flowering plants. The family name comes from the genus Urtica. The Urticaceae include a number of well-known and useful plants, including nettles in the genus Urtica, ramie (Boehmeria nivea), māmaki (Pipturus albidus), and ajlai (Debregeasia saeneb).

The family includes about 2,625 species, grouped into 53 genera according to the database of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Christenhusz and Byng (2016). [2] The largest genera are Pilea (500 to 715 species), Elatostema (300 species), Urtica (80 species), and Cecropia (75 species). Cecropia contains many myrmecophytes. [3]

Urticaceae species can be found worldwide, apart from the polar regions.


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Urticaceae, the nettle family (order Rosales) comprising about 54 genera and 2,625 species of herbs, shrubs, small trees, and a few vines, distributed primarily in tropical regions. The stems and leaves of many species—especially the nettles ( Urtica), the wood nettles ( Laportea), and the Australian stinging trees (Dendrocnide)—have stinging trichomes (plant hairs) that cause a painful rash upon contact. The long fibres in the stems of some species, such as ramie (Boehmeria nivea), are used in the textile industry.

Members of the family Urticaceae have varied leaves and sap that is usually watery. The small greenish flowers often form clusters in the leaf axils. Both male flowers and female flowers may be borne on the same plant, though some species are dioecious (producing male flowers on one individual and female on another). The curled stamens of the male flowers straighten quickly as the flowers open, releasing the pollen. The dry one-seeded fruit often is enclosed by the outer whorl of the flower cluster.

Pilea, a genus of creeping plants that includes the artillery plant (P. microphylla), and pellitory (Parietaria), a genus of wall plants, are grown as ornamentals. Baby tears (Helxine soleiroli), a mosslike creeping plant with round leaves, often is grown as a ground cover. The trumpet tree (Cecropia peltata), a tropical American species that has hollow stems inhabited by biting ants, is an extremely aggressive invasive species.

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One of the oldest fiber plants in cultivation. Ramie is also used as an ornamental plant.

Edible Uses: Root - peeled and boiled, the leaves are used for making cakes. The root contains the flavonoid rutin. It is antiabortifacient, antibacterial, cooling, demulcent, diuretic, resolvent and uterosedative.

The young leaves are red in color, they turn dark green only after reaching maturity.

A fast growing, herby small tree to about 8 m tall with very large, thin leaves and thin, string-like, drooping inflorescences.

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Obetia ficifolia, Urtica ficifolia
Family: Urticaceae
Bois d'ortie
Origin: Réunion and Rodrigues islands

Grown for the beauty of its leaves, it makes an ideal basket or terrarium plant.

Bast fibres

3.1 Introduction to ramie

Ramie is one of the oldest fibre crops, having been used for at least 6000 years. Ramie fibre is one of the strongest and longest natural fine textile fibres in the world. It is a bast fibre derived from the bast layer of the stem, that is, phloem of the vegetative stalks of the plants.

3.1.1 Origin

This dicot, angiosperm, semiperennial shrub of the Nettle family Urticaceae is a native of the Far East and probably originated in the mountain valleys of southwestern China.

3.1.2 History

Ramie is reported to have been used in mummy cloths in Egypt during 5000–3000 BC . Since prehistoric times, ramie has been used in China, India and Indonesia. It was used for Chinese burial shrouds over 2000 years ago. Ramie was mentioned and praised as grass cloth in the Sanskrit poems of Kalidasa and Ramayana. It was used in the south of Russia about 900 BC. It is said to have been grown in China for many centuries and was one of the principal fibres used in ancient China for making cloth previous to the introduction of cotton around AD 1300. Ramie was first introduced from the East Indies to Holland in 1733, France in 1844, Germany in 1850, England in 1851 and Belgium in 1860. In 1857, ramie plants were introduced into the United States from Java and planted in the Botanical Gardens in Washington.

Ramie fibre, also known as China grass, grass linen or Chinese silk, was exported by China to the Western world at the beginning of the 18th century. However, it was not until 1930 that ramie textile production was established on a commercial basis in Western Europe. Commercial ramie production in Brazil first began in the 1930s with production peaking in 1971. In Japan and the Philippines, concentrated efforts were made to produce ramie during the Second World War. With the establishment of sizeable ramie acreages in South Florida, commercial-scale processing equipment was developed and operated successfully from 1946 to 1955. Ramie's popularity actually increased in the mid-1980s with the fashion emphasis on natural fibres.

3.1.3 Adaptation/agroclimatic conditions

Ramie is adapted to a wide range of latitudes from almost equatorial conditions to about latitude 45°N in Russia. In the temperate areas, between latitudes 25° and 38°N or S, ramie may produce two to three crops annually. In subtropical areas, between 20° and 25°N or S, four to five crops may be harvested, usually with supplementary irrigation. At latitudes below 10°N or S, it may be possible to harvest six or more crops annually, but irrigation must be provided for 2–3 months when there is insufficient rainfall. Ramie has been found to grow well in humid climates under moderate temperature. It requires a uniformly well distributed rainfall of 1500–3000 mm annually. The optimum temperature for good harvest is around 20–31°C, and the relative humidity should be at least 25%. However, the crop is sensitive to waterlogging, frost and strong winds.

3.1.4 Areas of production

China, mainly the central and southern part, leads the world in the production of ramie. Other major producers of ramie fibre are Japan, Taiwan, Brazil, the Philippines, Korea, Indonesia and India.

3.1.5 Economic importance

Ramie, the longest and one of the strongest fine textile fibres, has been grown experimentally throughout the tropical, subtropical and temperate zones of the world.

Ramie has been proved quite remunerative when grown under favourable edapho-climatic conditions. The income generally starts from the second year and continues thereafter. Fibres up to 4%–5% by weight of total biomass may be obtained from ramie. Raw fibre yield of up to 1.6–2.2 ton per hectare may be harvested per year under ideal conditions.

However, it is of secondary importance in world trade despite its unique characteristics. This is mainly due to a lack of suitable large-scale fibre extraction equipment until recent years and costly methods of degumming, spinning and weaving of the fibre.

Only a small portion of the ramie produced is available in the international market to be imported mainly to Japan, Germany, France and the United Kingdom.

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