Fleurya ovalifolia (Schumach. & Thonn.) Dandy
Fleurya podocarpa Wedd.
Fleurya spicata A.Chev.
Haynea ovalifolia Schumach. & Thonn
Pilea procumbens Peter
Urera spicata A.Chev.
Plant growing in native habitat amongst other plants
Photograph by: Olivier Lachenaud
Laportea ovalifolia is a herbaceous perennial plant with shoots up to 1 metre long, mainly spreading across the ground by means of stolons and rooting at the nodes. Only the male flowering stems are erect, growing up to 50cm tall and becoming rather woody at the base. Female flowers are on short stalks about 5cm long and almost underground. All parts of the plant are armed with short stinging hairs[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and medicine[
The plant usually has short, stinging hairs[
Tropical Africa - Sierra Leone through the moister regions to southern Sudan, Uganda and Kenya, south to Angola, DR Congo, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
Primary rainforest and secondary jungle, clearings, stream-sides, at elevations up to 2,000 metres[
]. Found in the ground layer of rainforest, swamp forest, along streams; sometimes in gaps or along forest paths, even on adjacent cultivated land[
The plant can become an invasive weed in farmland within its native range[
]. It is considered a noxious weed in perennial crops such as cacao, oil palm and bananas[
Young leaves - cooked[
]. A mild flavour[
]. The leaves are chopped, boiled, mixed with beans or peas, or even served on their own with a staple such as rice[
]. They are only eaten in small amounts[
]. Some caution needs to be employed in harvesting the leaves because of the stinging hairs, but once cooked these hairs are destroyed and the leaves are perfectly safe to eat[
The leaves are anti-irritant, diuretic and haemostatic[
]. They are used in the treatment of blennorrhoea and chest problems[
]. The leaves are pounded, soaked in water and the infusion drunk to help in the delivery of the placenta after childbirth[
]. The cooked leaves are eaten as a remedy for stomach-ache[
]. The fresh leaves are used to relieve headaches[
The leaves are used externally to treat cuts, wounds etc[
The roots are boiled in water and the liquid drunk to prevent excessive menstrual bleeding[
The fruit is used as an antidote to poisons[
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