Habitat: Asia, Africa, South America.
Cultivation: Exposure shade to semi-shade, soil sufficiently fertile but draining, a nebulization from time to time will help!
Curiosity: Uncarias climb through branches transformed into hooks:that’s why they’ve been given their name, “Uncaria”, which derives from the Latin word “Uncus”, “hook”.
Uncaria is a genus of plants belonging to the Rubiaceae family, which includes about 40 species that are scattered around the world. Most of the Uncaria species in fact are native to tropical Asia, but some species from Africa and others from tropical South America.
Uncaria are lianas. Forget Tarzan’s lianas: a liana is actually a climbing plant, but larger and often woody. Like a climbing tree. It usually climbs the trunks of trees in tropical forests, to reach the foliage and try to catch more light. Some Uncaria can be up to 30 meters long! Some species have become troublesome weeds in banana plantations.
Uncarias climb through branches transformed into hooks:that’s why they’ve been given their name, “Uncaria”, which derives from the Latin word “Uncus”, “hook”. Their leaves are bright green and oval.
Their flowers, small and with the petals fused together, are gathered in a dense, roundish inflorescence that grows at the axilla of the leaf. The flowers produce seeds with a bifid wing, which serves to propagate them through wind.
Uncarias are popular for their supposed medicinal properties. They contain many active molecules including alkaloids, vitamins, glycosides, mineral salts, phytosterols and polyphenols. All these particular substances have mainly immunostimulant effects (they stimulate our immune system to function), but also also antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, contraceptive. These properties are widely used in homeopathy and traditional medicine: you can also find supplements based on Uncaria.
VARIETY AND TYPES
Here below are a few species of Uncaria. Check our online store to find out more!
- Uncaria africana
- Uncaria bernaysii
- Uncaria callophylla
- Uncaria cordata
- Uncaria donisii
- Uncarina decary
- Uncaria elliptica
- Uncaria homomalla
- Uncaria lancifolia
- Uncaria macrophylla
- Uncaria nervosa
TIPS FOR GROWING
Uncarias are not difficult to grow. Being tropical climbing plants, they are perfect in your greenhouses or covered terraces, or as houseplants.
- Exposure shade to semi-shade;
- Uncaria are tropical plants, so they are used to a warm and humid climate;
- Watering should be regular in Spring and Summer and sporadic in Autumn and Winter;
- Choose a sufficiently fertile but draining soil to plant them and put them in shade or mid shade. Uncaria prefer soils with sub-acid pH, between 5 and 7;
- A nebulization from time to time will help, as well as protecting the plant from cold currents or excessive air movements that significantly decrease humidity.
The propagation of Uncaria is usually carried out by seed.