Fiber Plants

hemp, plant, india, jute, bast, sunn, fibers and cordage

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395.) Aramina,a word meaning "little wire," is a trade name recently applied in Brazil to the fiber secured from the inner bark of the carrapicho plant, Urena lobate, Linn. (Fig. 395.) This plant is a shrubby perennial, belonging to the Malvaeme or Mallow family. It is native in India, but is now widely distributed in the warmer parts of both hemispheres. It is an aggressive weed in Florida, and is there called "Cmsar weed." Its fiber, obtained in small quantities from wild plants, is used in a domestic way in many places, as for paper and cordage in St. Thome, for cheap cordage in Porto Rico, for sacking and twine in India, tie material for house-building in West Africa, and fishing-nets in Brazil. Only in the Sao Paulo in southern Brazil is the plant regularly cultivated for fiber production on a commercial scale. It is there called "guaxima." The fiber is prepared by stripping it by machinery in the field, dry ing, and shipping to the factory where it is treated chemically and mechanically to prepare it for spinning. It is asserted that it will yield about 900 pounds of fiber per acre.

The fiber is four to eight feet long, light yellow or creamy white, somewhat ribbon-like, but capa ble of fine subdivision. It resembles India jute in color, texture, length and strength, but lasts better. It is used most extensively in making sacks for shipping coffee, but it has been demonstrated that when suitably prepared it may be used in the manufacture of ropes, canvas, carpets, trimmings and curtains.

Sunn hemp. (Fig. 396.) Sunn hemp is a bast fiber obtained from Croto laria juncea, an annual plant of the Leguminosce or Bean family. (Fig. 396.) It is raised most exten sively in central India. Like hemp and flax, it is not known in the wild state except where it has escaped from cultivation. It requires a light sandy soil and only a moderate rainfall,—fifteen to thirty inches. It will endure more cold than jute. The seed is sown broadcast at the rate of fifty to one hundred pounds per acre, usually in the spring, although in some localties it is grown as a winter crop. The plants are harvested by cutting with a sickle, or more frequently are pulled by hand, at flowering time or soon after. After the stalks have wilted so that the leaves fall readily, they are placed in bundles in stagnant pools or slow-running streams for retting, a process requiring four to eight days. When sufficiently retted, workmen enter the water, and, picking up the stalks a handful at a time, beat them on the surface of the water until the fiber separates. The fiber is further cleaned by

washing it and wringing it by hand. It is then hung on bamboo poles to dry in the sun. The aver age yield of fiber is about 640 pounds per acre.

Sunn hemp is lighter colored, coarser and stronger than jute, and lasts better. It is stiffer than jute or hemp, and cannot be spun so readily.

It is used in India for cordage, sacking, and gen erally as a substitute for jute. The small quanti ties imported into the United States are used for the manufacture of coarse twines.

The sunn hemp plant grows well in southern Florida, and as a leguminous crop, improving the fertility of the soil, it would doubtless be valuable in rotation if there were a satisfactory mechanical method for preparing the fiber.


Ambari, or deccan hemp, is a bast fiber obtained from Hibiscus cannabinus, an annual belonging to the Malracnr or Mallow family. The plant has deeply parted leaves, giving it somewhat the ap pearance of true hemp, though the foliage is much lighter in color. The stalks and leaf-stems are cov ered with very short spines, making them disagree able to handle when mature.

The plant is cultivated in India. In Egypt it is grown on the borders of the fields for a wind break. The fiber is prepared in about the same way as that of sunn hemp. It is called "Bimlipitam jute** in the London market. A very similar plant has recently been exploited in Brazil under the name Ca nhanio Bruziliensis Perini.

Miscellaneous bast fibers.

Bast fibers for domestic purposes have been secured from many different kinds of plants, but in most instances these have been superseded by com mercial twines and cordage. Some of the most important of these fibers are the following: (1) Majagua (Paritium tiliaceum), used for hal ters and cordage for small boats in Porto Rico and Cuba.

(2) Olona (Touchardia latifolia), formerly used for harpoon lines and fishing lines in the Hawaiian islands.

(3) Colorado river hemp (Ses bania m a o carpa), growing wild in large quantities o n the overflowed lands near the mouth of the Colorado river, used by the In dians for bow strings and other light cord age.

(4) Indian hemp(Apocynum cannabinum). A perennial plant of the Dogbane family, native through out the greater part of the United States and especially abundant in the West.

It was the most important source of bast fiber used by the North American Indians. (Fig. 397.) (c) HARD FIBERS.

The most important hard fibers are abaci, sisal, New Zealand hemp, Mauritius hemp, ixtle and San severia.

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