Urena lobata (MALVACEAE) Caesarweed

Weeds to Whack

A pantropical weed, it probably evolved somewhere in Asia. Lobed leaves are covered in stellate trichomes (star-shaped plant hairs) which give the leaves a greyish color and raspy feel. Frequently found in pastures and rangelands – it is often a monoculture in little-used corrals. Caesarweed fibers, called aramina in Brazil and Congo jute in Africa, are strong and lustrous and used to make burlap, sacking and twine.
Photo: Robert Whyte

Fruit

The fruit snaps easily from the plant when mature (dried) and each of the five wedge-shaped mericarps separate. The outer surface of each mericarp is covered with glochids, minute hooked spines that cling to fabrics and fur and tangle in hair.