Botanical Name: Clappertonia ficifolia
Synonyms: Honkenya ficifolia Willd.
Common Name : Bolo Bolo
Habitat:: Clappertonia ficifolia is native to tropical Africa – Senegal to Sudan, south to Angola and Mozambique. IIt grows on swampy grassland, marshy places, stream-banks, valleys, fallow rice fields; forest fringes, thickets on margins of damp depressions; at elevations of 1,100 – 1,200 metres.
Clappertonia ficifolia is an erect evergreen perennial shrub, growing 2.5 m (8ft) by 1.5 m (5ft) at a fast rate. The stem covered by stellate hairs of brown-orange colour and reddish young branches. The leaves, on a 0,5-1 cm long petiole covered by short reddish down, are alternate, very variable, oblong-ovate to 3-7-lobed, with rounded apex and toothed margins, 4-13 cm long and 1,5-10 cm broad, wrinkled aboven covered by short and dense tawny down below. Terminal inflorescences, about 15 cm long, bearing few bisexual flowers usually tetramerous, of 6-9 cm of diameter, with oblong-linear petaloid sepals, 3-4 cm long and 0,4-0,6 cm broad, of pink to purple red colour, unguiculate petals (petals with long narrow base similar to a stem) with obovate lamina, 3-4,5 cm long and 2-3 cm broad, of pink to bright blue mauve colour, rarely white, numerous fertile stamina and yellow or pink staminodes and superior ovary.
The fruits are oblong dehiscent capsules, 3-6 cm long and of 1,5-2,5 cm of diameter, covered by thick and hispid hairs surmounted by bristles, containing numerous globose seeds slightly flattened, of about 2 mm of diameter, greyish. It reproduces by seed, in organic loam with addition of sand or of agri-perlite per a 30% maintained constantly humid at the temperature of 24-26 °C, and by cutting.
Clappertonia ficifolia occurs from sea-level up to 1200 m altitude in swamps, riverine and swampy forest, forest fringes and thickets. In fallow land it can become dominant or even form an almost pure, dense stand and these populations are often exploited for fibre production. Clappertonia ficifolia is widespread and behaves as a weed in fallows. Hence, there do not seem to be threats of genetic erosion.
Propagation is possible by either root cuttings or seeds. Experiments in Nigeria just after the Second World War showed that an excellent fibre could be obtained when the stems of flowering plants were retted for about 28 days.
In traditional medicine in DR Congo the leaves are used as a cure for liver malfunction.
The stems are a source of a valuable fibre that resembles jute (Corchorus spp.). The fibre is used for making rope, twine, cordage and mats, nets, hammocks, fish traps and paper pulp . Clappertonia ficifolia is one of the fibre-producing species within the mandate of the International Jute Study Group (formerly the International Jute Organization) together with jute (Corchorus spp.), kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus L.), roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa L.) and Urena lobata L. Although most research attention is directed to Corchorus olitorius L., the prospects for natural fibres are such that attention should be given to Clappertonia spp. as well. Widely planted in gardens as an ornamental.
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