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Boehmeria nivea



Botanical Name

Boehmeria nivea (L.) Gaudich.

Gaudichaud-Beaupre, C. (1830) Voyage Autour du Monde ... sur les Corvettes de S.M. l'Uranie et la Physicienne. Botanique: 499. Type: ?.


Urtica nivea L., Species Plantarum: 985(1753), Type: China, collector unknown.

Common name

China Grass; Ramie; Native Ramie


Flowers and fruits as a shrub about 2-3 m tall.


Leaf blades about 10-13 x 8-9 cm, petioles about 4.5-6 cm long, margins with about 30-40 coarse teeth on each side. Underside of the leaf blade almost pure white in colour from the dense covering of felty hairs between the reticulate veins. Upper surface of the leaf blade scabrous. Stipules linear, caducous, about 4-8 mm long, two-awned at the apex. Petiole grooved on the upper surface. Twig bark strong and fibrous when stripped. Twigs clothed in white hairs. Reticulate veins run +/- at right angles to the midrib.


Flowers very small, in clusters on the twigs back from the leaves. Female flowers mainly green, smaller than the male flowers. Stamens inflexed in the bud. Stigmas end in a number of filiform projections.


Fruits very small, in clusters on the twigs back from the leaves. Nuts about 0.5-0.7 mm long, resemble small seeds.


Cotyledons +/- orbicular, small, about 1-1.5 mm diam. First pair of leaves opposite and both the upper and lower surfaces of the leaf blade hairy. At the tenth leaf stage: leaves cordate or orbicular, apex acuminate, base rounded, margin dentate, underside white from matted hairs between the reticulate veins, upper surface somewhat scabrous. Stipules two-awned at the apex, about 4-5 mm long.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in NEQ and southwards to coastal central Queensland. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 500 m. Grows in disturbed areas in lowland and upland rain forest but normally only thrives in protected situations or in high rainfall areas. Also occurs in Asia. This species was formerly cultivated in Asia to produce the fibre ramie but was collected along the Johnstone River before white settlement and must therefore be regarded as indigenous.



Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)


Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)


RFK Code