ORANGE WILD RHEA
(Debregeasia longifolia)

 

A tree of orange wild rhea

 

Family: Urticaceae

SynonymsUrtica longifolia, Debregeasia velutina

Other names: Tusara, kepasi

 

Orange wild rhea is believed to be a native of Asia.  It grows wild in India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Indo-China, West China and Malesia and is quite common. 

            In India, it can be found nearly in every state and has a local name in every state.  Though orange wild rhea fruits are edible and good to eat, still its economic importance lies in the fibre yielded by its bark. The trees usually grow in wet areas or along the riversides.

Description:

A large shrub or small tree, upto 5 m tall; bark grey, smooth; branchlets round, with gray hairs.

Leaves simple, alternate, spiral, 5-15 x 1.5-4 cm, narrow oblong or lanceshaped, tip pointed to long-pointed, base rounded, margin toothed, leathery, surface bullate with scattered hairs above, grayish beneath, 3-nerved at base; stipules lanceolate, bifid, 1 cm long, fused, falling off and leaving scar; leaf stalks 0.8-4 cm long, gray hairy.


Orange wild rhea foliage

Leaves simple, alternate, 16 x 5 cm, ovate to oblong-lanceolate, acuminate, base acute or obtuse, serrulate, 3-ribbed, midrib with 4 pairs of lateral nerves, nervules reticulate, densely white tomentose below, scabrous above; petiole 3 cm long; stipules linear-lanceolate.

Spike 4 mm across; peduncles 5 mm long; bracts and bracteoles ovate, ciliate

            Flowers knob-like, in forking cymes, capitate, axillary; peduncle up to 0.5 cm long, pubescent.

            Fruits achene, orange-yellow when ripe, sweet.

Utilization:

Orange wild rhea fruits are edible and taste good.  These are relished by local people, especially children. 


Ripe fruits of orange wild rhea

            Orange wild rhea plant is a source of fibre which is valued for ropes and cordage. The wood is reddish brown, rough hard and is light.  It is used for making charcoal.

 

Cultivation:

Orange wild rhea trees seem to prefer a fertile well-drained loam with some shelter at the hottest part of the day. Plants tolerate occasional low temperature spells upto -5 C.

            New plants can be raised from seed.

 

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