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common name for the Urticaceae, a family of fibrous herbs, small shrubs, and trees found chiefly in the tropics and subtropics. Several genera of nettles are covered with small stinging hairs that on contact emit an irritant (formic acid) which produces a skin rash
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any one of several plants of the genus Boehmeria of the family Urticaceae. The name “ramie” is most often used to designate the species B. nivea. Another ramie species is B. viridis, or B. utilis.
Ramie is a perennial with a powerful root system and erect, cylindrical, nonbranching stems. The plant is usually monoecious, with small, unisexual flowers in multiflorous inflorescences. Native to China, ramie has been cultivated for a long time for its bast, which yields a tough, elastic fiber measuring 62–95 mm in length. The fiber is noted for its fineness, its sheen, and its virtual rot resistance.
Ramie is used in the production of high-quality linens, industrial fabrics, fishnets, and paper (especially for paper money). The world’s principal supplier of ramie is China; other countries of South and East Asia also produce significant quantities of ramie. In the tropics, there are three or more harvests of ramie annually. Outside Asia, ramie is cultivated over relatively small areas in subtropical and tropical regions.
Ramie is a hygrophilous plant that requires fertile soils. The stems cannot tolerate even light frosts, dying at a temperature of - 1 °C. In the USSR the best regions for ramie cultivation are in Transcaucasia and Middle Asia.
REFERENCESiniagin, 1.1. Tropicheskoe zemledelie. Moscow, 1968.
M. E. KIRPICHNIKOV