April 1, 2018

False Nettles - Ramie cousins (Boehmeria sp. div.)

To the genus Boehmeria belongs about 47 species which grows both in Old and New World. They are mostly perennial herbaceous plants (or shrubs), nettle cousins, which are similar to nettles but have no stinging hairs. They are also known under name “False nettles”. Some species are edible, but the most important is use of them as textile plants. Especially one species – Boehmeria nivea – called Ramie, is widely cultivated w East Asia for high-quality fiber, which is used to make ropes, cloth, and some industrial materials.
Boehmeria platanifolia (Sycamore-leaf False Nettle) - one of the most ornamental species
They can be easily propagated by seeds – sown surface (they do not need any pre-treatment). They likes well drained soils and sunny or half-shade position. Some species are full hardy in my 6b zone while other need to wintered in cool cellar. Some species bloom late, so seeds not always ripe before winter in cool climates.
I tried to grow 9 species:
Ramie – Boehmeria nivea var. nivea – this is subshrub to about 1,5m = 5ft tall with alternate leaves, native to China, Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Nepal, Sikkim, Thailand and Vietnam. I grew a strain from Japan. As I mentioned before it is well known as textile plant and also vegetable (cooked roots and young leaves). In zone 6b this species can survive mild winter but strong frosts (during hard winters as occurs one for a few years) can kill it. 
There are female flowers in upper part of stems and male ones below
It started to flowering in end of August in first year from seeds
Wild Ramie, Japanese False Nettle – Boehmeria nipononivea (syn. B. nivea var. nipononivea, B. nivea var. tenacissima) - very similar to previous one perennial (subshrub) about 0,5-2,5m (=2-8ft) tall. They differs mainly by their various hairiness. It is also used as textile and vegetable herb. It is native to east Asia. I grew a form from Japan. Probably more frost hardy than var. nivea (but I am not sure because I wintered it only in cool cellar so far). Very ornamental.
It never flowered in my experience
Giant False Nettle - Boehmeria gigantea - rare something frost hardy perennial about 1,5m (=5ft) tall, Japanese endemic. Very ornamental. As only one it has been evergreen in my cool and dark cellar in winter 2017/18 (where was some frost). 
It started to blooming very late in autumn
Racemose False Nettle - Boehmeria spicata - rare in cultivation Asiatic (sub-)shrub to about 1m (=3ft) tall. Hardy to some frost (to about zone 7/8). Very ornamental. The young stems and leaf petioles are red. Young leaves edible after cooking, very delicious.
One of the most ornamental species
It started to blooming in September
Long-racemose False Nettle - Boehmeria longispicadioecious subshrub to 1,2m(=4ft) tall, native to China and Japan.  The leaves are large and almost suborbicular. Used as vegetable (cooked roots and leaves). 

This species has very large leaves
and blooms late

Sycamore-leaf False Nettle, Plane-leaved False Nettle - Boehmeria platanifolia – said to be hardy to zones 4-8) perennial to 1 m (= 3ft) tall, native to east Asia (China, Korea and Japan). With very, very ornamental leaves. 
Young plants
It starts very late to blooming

Three-pointed False Nettle - Boehmeria tricuspis – a herbaceous, rather small perennial 0,5-0,8m (=2-3 ft) tall native to Japan and China. The leaves are lobed and very ornamental. They are also edible after cooking.
Young seedling
Siebold’s False Nettle - Boehmeria sieboldiana – erect perennial about 1-2m (=3-6 ft) tall, native to Japan. Full frost hardy in zone 6b and warmer. Ornamental.
It is fully frost hardy in zone 6b
American False Nettle, Bog Hemp - Boehmeria cylindrica – this is herbaceous perennial or sub-shrub native to USA, Central and South America. A fibers obtained from the stems is used for cordage, nets etc. It survived a few winters in my garden in zone 6b (without mulching), but after one very strong winter it died.
This spesies is less ornametal
If you have available seeds of any rare nettle cousins (species which belongs to family Urticaceae) please write to me.

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