Taxonomy

Morphology

  • A tree or shrub, 2-10m in height often leaning heavily to one side.
  • It has relatively deep grooves running up and down the stems and a grey-brown thin bark., the branches arch downwards.
  • The leaves are heart shaped, 10-30cm in length, moderately hairy and born on long pink stalks.
  • The female and male flowers are very different in form; the female 1mm long, green with a small white feathery tuft protruding from one end; the male are 2 mm across and pale pink.
  • The fruit are bright orange, red-pink or red-violet and fleshy when ripe.
  • They are formed by the inflation of the rudimentary petals after fertilisation of the female flower.

Diagnostic description

The leaves are weakly clustered towards the ends of the branches and Urera fenestrata can be distinguished from other Urera species by the small window-like holes in the stretch of the stem just below the leaves.

These holes are formed from the scar left by the leaf stalks once they have fallen.

Evolution

Based on morphology Urera fenestrata is most similar to Urera caracasana another species also found in the same area.

They form part of a group of 70 or so, poorly known species found in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. It is possible that the African species may, in fact, be a distinct genus.