Chichicaste, Tree Nettle (Urera baccifera)

To the genus Urera (Nettle family – Urticaceae) belong several dozen of lianas, shrubs or small trees. They are often prickly (but not all) and creates flesh fruits (achenes). They grows both in tropics of Old World (Africa) as well as in Americas. They are rarely cultivated as ornamental or for their sometimes edible fruits, and they are very hard to find. I grew only 2 species.
The best known species which is easy to growing and fruited regularly every year in my experience is Urera baccifera (Chichicaste which is also known under numerous other common names as Scratchbush, Ortiga Brava, Pringamoza, Mala Mujer, Nigua, Guaritoto, Ishanga, Manman Guêpes, Urtiga Bronco).
  It is native to Central and South America. It is small shrub/tree with succulent thick trunk and branches and glossy leaves. It is armed (whole plant including stems, leaves and inflorescences, except only fruits) in small prickles which burn as common nettle (not more). It creates inflorescences on upper part of trunk and thick branches. Flowers are inconspicuous but later grow white or pink fruits which are edible (but in my temperate zone not very sweet) and very ornamental.  It is so called “iron plant” – it survives drought, water-flooding, cutting, but needs a few hours of sunlight per day and frost free warm place. It can be easily propagated by sowing (surface) seeds or probably by cuttings.
The small seedling

Mature plant

Female and male flowers

It is caulifloric shrub - creates its inflorescences on thick branches

The fruits are edible
The second species which I tried to grow is Urera caracassana (Flameberry). It is shrub or small tree, native to South and Central America, with orange inedible, but very ornamental, fruits and leaves which have not prickles, but small burning hairs. I had no success with it. First it grew well (from small seeds sown surface) but I tried to winter it in cool cellar and this was a mistake – all plants died. 
Young seedling of U. caracassana
If you have seeds of any other species (especially which are known to create edible fruits) please write to me.


Dwarf Paper Mulberry, Kozo (Broussonetia monoica)

Dwarf Paper Mulberry, Kozo - Broussonetia monoica is aslo known under name B. kazinoki, but this name has been recently reserved for hybrid of B. monoica and Common Paper Mulbery - B. papyrifera (the correct name of this hybrid is B. x kazinoki).  
The fruits are edible and very delicious
B. monoica this is deciduous Asiatic shrub (or more often small tree) to 5 m (17ft) tall, but commonly smaller (2-3m = 7-10ft). Very frost hardy (to zone 6). Monoecious. It starts to fruiting within 4-5 years from seed. In blooms in April/May and in July are ripening edible delicious orange-red mulberry-like fruits (which are delicious and taste like figs). It is different from (B. papyrifera) by smaller size of whole tree and its organs (leaves, fruits, flower heads) and monoecious inflorescences. It blooms in the same time as B. papyrifera and, as I mentioned before, there are known also hybrids of both specie (which is prized as material to making a paper, the same, or even more, than clean B. monoica). Seeds need cold stratification to germinating. They should be stratified immediately after receiving because they can be shortly viable. After stratification sow the seeds shallowly or surface in pots in a sandy well drained soil. Sow only small amount of seeds in each pot because the seedlings are not resistant to transplanting. It can be also propagated by woody leafless cuttings with heel in autumn (plant them in mix of soil and sand in pots in cool cellar; I used rooting hormone) or half-woody ones (also with heel) in June/June (rooted in sandy soil mix or in clear water). 

It creates usually to 2-3m (7-10ft) tall small trees

Two female and one male infloreescences

Female inflorescences

The fruits are soft, sweet and very delicious


Suhosine Mulberry (Debregeasia edulis)

Debregeasia edulis (Suhosine, Janatsi-itsigo, Toon-itsigo) is called in China as “shui ma” which can be probably translated as “water hemp”. This name refers to use of the inner bark of this genus plants in manner similar as hemp fibers. This is native to east Asia (including Japan) and belongs to Nettle Family (Urticaceae).This is small (0,3-1,8m = 1-6ft tall) semi-evergreen shrub which creates its inflorescences on thick branches (caulifloric) and next edible orange fruits (which are similar to small round mulberries) with sweet taste and exotic aroma. 

The fruits are very ornamental and  edible (delicious with an exotic aroma)
It is moderately frost hardy (shoots to zone 8 and roots even to zone 7a if mulched) and blooms in spring. Fruits are ripening in summer and hangs on branches to autumn (if birds did not eat them). It is dioecious. I have a clone called “Elite” which is female and creates seedless fruits (without pollinating).

This is caulifloric shrub (creates fruits on thick woody branches)

The shrub in flowers in spring
The clone called "Elite" creates only female inflorescences. It can flower when is very small (even about 30cm = 1ft tall)
It creates fruits on even very thick branches
The coin on the photo is size about 1inch = 2,5cm
I tried also growing other species – Debregeasia longifolia (Wild Rhea), which is much larger and need more warmness and lightness in winter. It is native to also to east Asia (China, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, N Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Sikkim, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam). I tried to winter it in cool cellar (without frost) but plants died in mid-winter. It has never flowered in my experience. It is difficult to growing in pots in home also due to its large size.
It can be very large shrub

It has not flowered in my experience

If you have available any Debregeasia (or other rare Urticaceae family plant) species seeds please write to me.

Chichicaste, Tree Nettle (Urera baccifera)

To the genus Urera (Nettle family – Urticaceae ) belong several dozen of lianas, shrubs or small trees. They are often prickly (but no...