Definition of Manila Hemp

Also known as Abaca.

This vegetable leaf fiber is derived from the Musa textilis plant. It is mainly grown in the Philippines (where it is a chief export product) but is also found, in smaller amounts, in Africa, Malaysia, Indonesia and Costa Rica. The fiber is obtained from the outer layer of the leaf. Processing occurs when it is separated mechanically decorticated into lengths varying from 1 to 3 meters. Mature plants are processed much the same as flax and hemp. The finer fibers, often 5 m (15 ft) long, are used for weaving cloth. The outer, coarser fibers are used in the manufacture of matting and durable cordage; the latter is widely considered the finest rope made. Abaca is very strong with great luster. It is very resistant to damage from salt water.

Uses: Cordage.

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