Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Debregeasia australis Friis, Wilmot-Dear & C.J.Chen

Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)
Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
Click/tap on images to enlarge
Flowers and buds. © Barry Jago
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO

Wilmot-Dear, C.M. & Friis, I. (2012) Edinburgh Journal of Botany 69(2): 302-305, 309, Figs 1, 2 (map). Type: Australia, Queensland, South Kennedy, Cawley State Forest, 900 m, 27 iv 1991, Forster PIF8139 (holo K!; iso L!, MEL, QRS).

Common name

China Grass; Ramie; Native Ramie


Flowers and fruits as a shrub about 2-3 m tall.


Leaf blades about 10-13 x 8-9 cm, petioles about 4.5-6 cm long, margins with about 30-40 coarse teeth on each side. Underside of the leaf blade almost pure white in colour from the dense covering of felty hairs between the reticulate veins. Upper surface of the leaf blade scabrous. Stipules linear, caducous, about 4-8 mm long, two-awned at the apex. Petiole grooved on the upper surface. Twig bark strong and fibrous when stripped. Twigs clothed in white hairs. Reticulate veins run +/- at right angles to the midrib.


Flowers very small, in clusters on the twigs back from the leaves. Female flowers mainly green, smaller than the male flowers. Stamens inflexed in the bud. Stigmas end in a number of filiform projections.


Fruits very small, in clusters on the twigs back from the leaves. Nuts about 0.5-0.7 mm long, resemble small seeds.


Cotyledons +/- orbicular, small, about 1-1.5 mm diam. First pair of leaves opposite and both the upper and lower surfaces of the leaf blade hairy. At the tenth leaf stage: leaves cordate or orbicular, apex acuminate, base rounded, margin dentate, underside white from matted hairs between the reticulate veins, upper surface somewhat scabrous. Stipules two-awned at the apex, about 4-5 mm long. Seed germination time 9 to 377 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in NEQ and CEQ. Altitudinal range 10-1000 m. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 500 m. Grows in disturbed areas in lowland and upland rain forest but normally only thrives in protected situations or in high rainfall areas.

Natural History & Notes

Previously called Boehmeria nivea in north Queensland.

RFK Code
Copyright © CSIRO 2020, all rights reserved.