By H.F.Macmillen F.L.S., A.H.R.H.S.
Introduced and compiled by Ivor Hughes

The green plants supply our kind with all its needs; food, clothing, medicine, shelter and fuel. Many of us in the 1st world technological wonderland give little thought to such things as the multi-national corporations strip and plunder the skin of our common mother. This far beyond our need, and in those activities we have bought the world to the brink of disaster. 5 acres of the Amazonian Rain Forest fall before the vanguard of our kind, this in every minute of every hour, of every day.

The Amazon, African and Asian Rain Forests are the global arbiter of our climate and the change is upon us. Science will not save us for it was the commercial application of Science that has led us to the present cross road. We need a change of heart and consciousness with an awareness of the debt that we owe to the green plants � as we take their life � to make ours possible.

Green House gases are the scientific buzz words of climate change. Our sky is blue because the trees and green plants made it so. They are the lungs of the Planet. It is only the Forests that can manufacture on a large enough scale the essential gases needed to balance out our industrial and domestic activities. Perhaps the answer is too simple for the complicated scientific mindset and the endless committees � sucking from the public purse.

You there! � your Planet needs you � over and above the call to the war flag, religion, and national allegiance � Go out and plant a tree � That small investment of money and time can save the world.


By H.F.Macmillen F.L.S., A.H.R.H.S.



MOST vegetable fibres consist of the fibre-vascular tissue or threadlike filaments forming the tougher parts of plants, their function being primarily for rigidity. They may be classified botanically into bast fibres (inner bark), e.g. Jute, Hemp, Ramie, etc.; leaf fibres (e.g. Manila-hemp, Sansevieria, Agave, Phormium), and hair-like or floss fibres surrounding the seeds of certain fruits (e.g. Cotton and Kapok). Coir-fibre consists of the husk (mesocarp) of the coconut. Commercially, fibres may be classed into Textile fibres (including Cotton, Flax, Ramie, Hemp); Cordage fibres (including Manila-, Sisal-, Mauritius-, and New Zealand-hemps) ; Bristle, Brush or Mat fibres (e.g. Piassava, Coir, Palmyra); Stuffing fibres (Kapok and other silk-cottons); and Paper-making fibres, which include various fibrous or waste materials capable of pulping and felting.

Fibre plants are numerous in the tropics, but the great majority lack certain essential qualities for commercial cultivation, whilst many present difficulties of successful decortication. One of the chief uses of the coarser fibres, e.g. Sisal, Phormium, etc., is for binder twine in corn- or wheat-growing countries, as Australia, Canada and America. Owing, however, to the introduction of the " Combined Harvester-Thresher " the demand is likely largely to diminish, as this machine cuts and threshes in one operation, so that no binder is needed. The fibre market, like many others, has of late fallen on evil days, but only temporarily it is hoped, for fibres are among the most important products of the vegetable kingdom.

Cotton ; Pulun, S. The cotton of commerce consists of the delicate hair-like fibres or floss which surrounds the seeds of various species of Gossypium (family Malvaceae). These are shrubby perennials, but are usually cultivated as annual crops, partly in order to guard against insect pests. Cotton is the most important of all textile fibres, and has been grown and used in India from time immemorial. It is also largely used for gun-cotton and ammunitions. The principal cotton-producing countries are the U. States, Egypt, India, Brazil, W. Indies and Japan.

Cultivation. The cotton plant requires a rich, friable, deep soil, a black humous land being considered the best; a warm climate with a rainy season of 2 or 3 months, followed by a dry period for the successful maturing and harvesting of the crop, is indispensable. It is a subtropical rather than a tropical crop. Manuring is essential. Nitrate of soda is favoured in Sudan and Egypt, being applied at the rate of about 2 cwt. per acre. Sprinkled along the lines when the plants are a few inches high, it is found to be a good remedy for the cut-worm pest besides being an excellent fertiliser. In some of the principal cotton-growing countries, where the annual rainfall may be under 25 in., irrigation is indispensable, as in Egypt, India, Mesopotamia, etc. Shade trees must be avoided, but windbreaks are beneficial where strong winds occur. The seeds, which must be fresh, should be sown in the rainy season, so as to allow of the crop being harvested in the dry season. The land being ploughed and harrowed, the seed is sown in rows about 3 or 4 ft. apart, with a distance of about 2 ft. between the plants in the row. It is usual to sow 3�4 seeds to the hole, a few in. apart, taking about 8�10 lb. seed to the acre. They germinate in a week. When a few inches high, the weaker seedlings are removed .and the strongest one (or two) left to each hole. If the ground be flat and rather wet, the soil should be thrown up in drills, but in dry regions level, or even sunken, cultivation is best. Vacancies should be supplied early, preferably by seeds, as plants do not bear transplanting well.

Harvesting. The crop is ready for picking in 5�6 months (according to variety) from the time of sowing, and harvesting may continue for 4�6 weeks or longer. In Ceylon, it is best to sow in October or November (rainy season), the crop thus maturing in March�May, which is generally a dry period. When ripe the pods burst open and the cotton bolls are picked by hand. The lint is afterwards thoroughly dried in the sun, thus getting rid of " stainers " and other insects, then separated from the seed by a ginning machine, after which it is made up into compressed bales of about 500 lb. each for export.

Grading and Yield, Grading must be carefully attended to, it being essential to sort the fibre according to quality into 2 or 3 uniform grades. 40-50 pods per plant is considered a fair crop, though some plants may bear as many as 100 pods. 50 pods should yield 1 oz. clean cotton. The yield per acre varies, according to climate, soil, and variety, from 700 to 1,500 lb. or more of seed-cotton, about 950 lb. being a good average. In S. United States and Egypt a yield of 600-700 lb. or more ginned cotton per acre is often obtained. Ginned cotton (i.e. freed from the seeds) is about half the weight of seed-cotton. The seeds also are a source of revenue (see Oils). Cotton may sometimes be grown as a catch-crop, as with young Rubber or Coconuts, etc. The production of cotton in Ceylon is at present limited to a small area, chiefly in the S. Province, and the crop is nearly all used by local mills.

Varieties. Numerous species or varieties of Gossypium are known, either in a wild state or in cultivation, being distributed over the tropics of Asia, Africa, and America. Many of the types in cultivation have special qualities suited to certain localities, climate and soil. Their commercial value depends mainly on the length and lustre of the fibre or lint. Their botanical origin is confused, but the principal sorts are considered to have been derived chiefly from the following species, viz. : G. barbadense, the source of " Sea Island '' type, the finest and longest of all; it has a silky fibre 1��2� in. long and is cultivated in regions near the sea, as in the W. Indies; G. peruvianum, affording the " Peruvian " and " Egyptian," among the best varieties of the latter being the " Mitafiffi," with a fibre length of 1-3�1-6 inches. G. hirsutum is considered to be the origin of " American Upland " cotton, with a fibre about 1 in. long; this is the most largely cultivated type and is in greatest general demand. G. herbaceum, a short-staple type, yields the " Indian " or " Tinnevelly " cotton. " Durango " and " Cambodia," forms of G. hirsutum, are especially suited to the tropics, and have given yields of 1,037 lb. and 626 lb. respectively per acre in Ceylon. G. arboreum is a tree form which attains a height of 15-20 ft., considered a native of Africa, but is not cultivated for fibre. " Caravonica," a hybrid tree-form raised in Queensland, is claimed to give heavy yields and to be adapted to perennial cultivation. " Alien's " and " Sunflower " varieties are said to have proved superior to " Egyptian Cotton " in Uganda. Long-staple varieties thrive in Lower Egypt, where they yield about 300 lb. cleaned cotton per acre. " Mesowhite " is favoured in Mesopotamia. " Nanking Cotton " (G. Nanking) has a reddish-brown floss and is cultivated in Siam and China. It is known as " Khaki " cotton, and has certain advantages locally over white cotton.

Flax or Linseed. (Linum usitatissimum. Linaceae.) � An erect annual, cultivated from early antiquity in Egypt for its fibre, and now largely in India, Argentina, China, etc. for its seed (see Linseed Oil). Its cultivation has in recent years been undertaken at the higher elevations in E. Africa. The crop, however, is not suited to the tropics. About 2 months from sowing, the plants begin to flower and assume a yellowish colour; 3 weeks later the seed capsules become brownish-yellow. The fibre is then at its best, and the plants should be pulled by hand, not cut. If, however, the crop is grown for seed it must not be pulled till the seed capsules are quite brown and ripe.

Harvesting. The stems, as they are pulled, are left in handfuls in lines on the field for 4 or 5 days to dry. They are then tied in small bundles, which are placed flat between poles set in the ground 2 ft. apart, the ground between being first covered with dry grass. In 3 weeks' time the straw should be thoroughly dry. It is then placed in stacks, the top-ends inside and the bundles sloping upwards. When cultivated for fibre only, the crop should be pulled just after the plants have flowered, the fibre being then at its best.

Threshing or removal of the seed is done either by drawing the flax by hand through iron pins closely set in a block of wood, or by a special machine. The straw is then made up in bundles, one-half with the roots coming next the tops of the other half. Each bundle is tied at either end and in the middle with thin twine.

Retting. The bundles are placed upright, close together, in a tank supplied with running water; wooden planks weighted down with stones are placed on top, and water is turned on. In 6-8 days the water is drained off, the bundles are removed, laid out in lines, and left for about a couple of days to dry and bleach. The straw is again made up in bundles and again placed in the tank for 4-6 days. In cold weather as much as 30 days in all may be required for the process of retting, which is not complete till the fibre separates readily from the straw.

Breaking. The next operation consists of breaking or crushing the wood in the " straw," without damaging the fibre, by passing the straw between two fluted rollers, driven either by hand or steam. The next process is Scutching, by which the straw is put through a machine with hard wooden blades, which remove the wood from the fibre. The flax (fibre) is then finished, made up into bundles averaging 14 lb. each, tied in three places, with the roots all to one end. It is then made up into bales of about 200 lb. each, and covered with hessian for shipment.

Cultivation and yield. A rich clay soil gives the best flax, a light sandy soil producing too short a straw. The stems should have a length averaging 36 in. In Kenya seed is sown in drills about 4 in. apart, about 80 lb. of seed going to the acre. The usual rate in Belgium is 120 lb. to the acre, owing to the greater loss in that country caused to seed and young plants by birds and unfavourable climate. At Kabete, in Kenya, a 5-acre field averaged over 2� tons of straw per acre, and a sample of straw, taken haphazard, gave 17 lb. of seed ( = 496 lb. per acre, or 8� % weight of straw), 21 lb. clean fibre ( = 613 lb. per acre, or 10� %), and 8 lb. waste fibre, removed during the process of Scutching ( = 291 lb. per acre, or 5%). The average yield of seed per acre in India is about 300 lb.

Hemp, Indian. (Cannabis sativa. Urticaceae ; Nettle family.) See Drugs.� An annual dioecious shrub, growing to a height of 6-8 ft. or more, with erect stems and small, greenish flowers, native of Cent. Asia and long cultivated in Persia, India, China, etc., either for the fibre obtained from the stems by retting, or for the drug ganja (q.v.). It is cultivated for fibre chiefly in S. Europe, S. Africa, Mexico, U. States, Kashmir, China, Japan, etc.

Cultivation. The crop may be grown in any warm climate with a moderate rainfall, and prefers a rich friable soil. With manuring, it may be grown on the same land for several years in succession. Applications of potash fertilisers are especially beneficial, and all refuse from the retting and scutching processes should be returned to the soil. Seed is sown broadcast or in drills. In order to produce straight clean stems and the best fibre, close spacing is adopted, 2��3 bushels seed per acre being usually allowed. Hemp seed yields an oil of value in commerce, and is quoted at about 20s. per cwt.

Yield. An average crop should give 2�3 tons of dry stems per acre (yielding about 25% of clean fibre), or 25�30 bushels of seed. The best hemp, when ready for market, is nearly white, with a silky lustre, and is 6 ft. or more in length. Italy produces the best quality of hemp, the price of which fluctuates from �30 and �50 per ton, according to quality. The fibre is used chiefly for ropes, cables, twine, nets, sail-cloth, canvas, warp of carpeting material, etc.

Jute or Gunny-fibre. This valuable fibre is obtained from the stems of cultivated varieties of Corchorus capsularis and C. olitorius (Tiliaceae), annual plants with long, erect, thin stems and yellow flowers, indigenous to Ceylon, India and Malaya. In cultivation the plants, being grown closely together, attain a height of 6-10 ft. or more. Of the numerous varieties, those of C. capsularis are generally preferred, as they yield better fibre and come to maturity earlier than those of C. olitorius.

Cultivation. The crop thrives in rich, loamy or alluvial soil, on flat or low-lying land, with provision for irrigation. The latter is essential in the early stages of the crop, but the plants must not be long submerged. Jute is an exhausting crop and requires manuring. Cattle manure, ploughed in before sowing at the rate of 3�4 tons per acre, gives good results, but the application of potash fertilisers is of special importance. Rotation with mustard, rice, pulses, etc., is generally adopted; or such crops may be grown and dug in as green-manure. Seed is sown broadcast at the rate of about 8-10 lb. per acre, the seedlings being thinned out when about 1 ft. high to a spacing of about 6 in. The crop matures in 3-4 months and is cut when the plants are in blossom. The stems are cut near the ground, bundled and stocked for a few days, then retted in a tank or pool of water. Retting takes about 10 days. The yield of fibre may vary from 10 to 18 cwt. per acre, but is sometimes much more. Jute forms a large industry in India, chiefly in Bengal, where some 3 million acres are yearly under the product. The fibre is extensively used for cordage, coarse carpets, fishing nets, gunny bags, etc. It fluctuates much in price, and is at present quoted in London at about �16 to �18 per ton.

Kapok or Silk-cotton ; Pulung or Rotta-pulung, S. ( Eriodendronanfractuosum, = Ceibapentandra. Bombaceae.) � A large or moderate-sized, quick-growing, upright, thornless tree, branching horizontally, in whorls, at right-angles to the stem. It thrives from sea-level to 2,500 ft., and is deciduous in the dry season, usually February � April, the greenish-white flowers being produced in clusters shortly after the leaves have dropped. The pods, which ripen about 2� - 3 months after flowering, contain a quantity of creamy-white floss (kapok), consisting of lustrous, unicellular hairs about � - l-2 in. long, closely packed around the black, small pea-like seeds, and when ripe burst open and disperse their contents. The pods should therefore be collected before they are quite ripe, then dried in the sun, and shelled. Until lately, kapok fibre has been used chiefly for stuffing pillows, cushions, etc., and during the war for life-saving waistcoats and similar articles. Recently, it has been employed for mixing with other fine fibres for textile purposes. The largest supply comes from Java and the Philippines,' where the tree is cultivated to some considerable extent. The export of kapok from Java alone is about 12,000 tons a year. Some 430 tons were exported from Ceylon in 1929, valued at about �89 per ton. Cleaned kapok is now valued in London at about 8d. per lb., Java kapok usually fetching the highest price. The tree is readily propagated from seed, but preferably from branch or post cuttings planted in situ, and thrives from sea-level to about 2,000 ft. Spacing for field planting may be about 15 x 15 ft.; for roadsides or boundaries, the trees may be planted 8-10 ft. apart and used as supports for pepper vines.

Yield. The trees begin to yield in the fourth or fifth year, when they may be expected to give 1|�2 Ib. of kapok each, or 1 Ib. for 80 or 100 pods. Trees vary considerably in yield ; some may bear heavily one year and be almost barren the next. A good tree at maturity (say 15 years old) may produce from about 600-900 pods, or 6-9 Ib. of clean floss. A single pod contains from about 100-150 seeds, 200 of which when fresh = 1 oz., and about 180,000 or 50 Ib. = 1 bushel. By weight, the dried pods contain about 50% seeds, 35% floss, and 15% core. Other allied species yield a silky floss similar to kapok. That of Bombax malabaricum (q.v.) is said to be exported from India under the name of kapok. It does not, however, appear to be collected anywhere in Ceylon, owing doubtless to the difficulty of access to this very prickly, large, erect, bare-stemmed tree.

Manila Hemp ; Abaca Fibre. (Musa textilis. Scitamineae.) � A large herbaceous perennial or small tree of the Banana family, indigenous to the Philippines, where it is extensively cultivated for its well-known fibre. The plant requires a hot and moist climate, deep heavy soil, with a good rainfall, and is best suited to elevations below 1,000 ft, Its cultural requirements are similar to those of the Plantain or Banana, which it closely resembles. It does not bear edible fruit. Hemp plantations in the Philippines are confined chiefly to flat and volcanic land, as in the eastern side of the Islands.

Propagation is by suckers (fertile seeds being rarely produced), which are planted out when about 3 ft. high, at distances of about 8 x10 ft. These produce several stems (suckers), forming a clump, like the Banana. To obtain the fibre, the soft succulent stems, formed by the leaf bases, are cut down just before they begin to flower (the fibre being then at its best), about a foot from the ground. After removal of the leaves each stem is divided into strips about 3 in. wide. To clean the fibre, each strip is taken by hand and drawn between a blunt knife and a hard smooth board, which are attached to a light frame. One man can thus clean 20 lb. of fibre per day. The hemp is then bleached, dried in the sun, and made up in bales of 275 lb. for export. The inner portion of the stem yields the finest quality of fibre.

Yield. The first crop of fibre is obtained about 2 years from planting, and a full crop in the 4th year, the plantation continuing to yield for 15 or 20 years. The annual yield varies from 1� to 2 tons per acre. A single plant may give 3-5 lb. of dry fibre, or about 2 % of stem by weight. The fibre as prepared for market is composed of strands 6-10 ft. long. It is very strong, light and tenacious, and its principal use is for ropes and cordage, which are noted for their superior quality. The quality of the fibre depends on climate, soil, and variety. It fluctuates in price, according to grade, etc., being now about �13 per ton against �25 to �30 in 1926.

Sunn or San Hemp ; Bombay Hemp ; Hanna, S. (Crotalaria juncea. Leguminosae.) � An erect annual, 6-10 ft. high, with bright yellow flowers, native of Trop. Asia generally, commonly occurring in the dry region of Ceylon ; cultivated practically all over India and to a small extent in the semi-dry districts of N.-W. Ceylon, generally as a catch-crop, for the sake of the strong and useful fibre obtained from the stems by retting. The plant may also serve when young as fodder for cattle, or for green-manuring. For fibre purposes, it is best grown on a light soil, in rather dry districts. The seed is sown thickly, either broadcast or in drills, at the rate of 20-25 lb. (40 lb. if for green-manure or fodder) per acre, the seedlings being afterwards thinned out to 3 or 4 in. apart. In India the crop is sown at the beginning of the rains and occupies the ground for 3|-4 months, being cut, if for fibre, when the plants blossom.

Harvesting. In harvesting, the plants are usually pulled up by the root, though sometimes cut close to the ground, and left on the field for a few days to wither ; they are then stripped of the leaves and tied in bundles of about a hundred stalks. The bundles are dried for 2 or 3 weeks, then placed in pools (preferably of still, shallow water) and weighted down with logs. Retting is complete in 6-8 days. The fibre is afterwards stripped off, washed and bleached.

Yield, etc. A good average crop should yield 3�4 tons of dry stems per acre, which furnish about 8% of clean fibre ; hence the yield of fibre per acre may be about 5 or 6 cwt. The fibre is now valued in London at about �12 per ton, varying according to grade. It is used chiefly for cordage, canvas, fishing-nets, etc.

Mauritius Hemp ; Green Aloe. (Furcraea gigantea. Amaryllideae.) � A large, succulent perennial, indigenous to Trop. America, bearing large fleshy leaves, 5-7 ft. long, producing at maturity a central " pole " (inflorescence) 20-25 ft. high, which bears numerous bulbils. Introduced to Ceylon before 1824, the plant has, as in India, etc., become almost naturalised, especially up-country and near railways, along which it was once planted to form a boundary. First introduced to Mauritius about 1790 as a garden plant, it gradually spread over waste lands and became completely naturalised. About 1875 an industry of extracting the fibre was started there, followed by the cultivation of the plant on commercial lines, spacing being 5 x 5 ft. in light soils, and 7 x 7 ft. in heavy soils. The leaves yield 2-3% of strong white fibre, used for ropes, twine, sacks, mats, etc. The plant resembles Sisal Hemp ( q.v.), but is readily distinguished by the pale-green and thinner leaves, which are furnished with short spines along the margins from about the centre towards the base. Propagation is by bulbils or suckers. Two varieties are recognised in Mauritius, viz. "Creole Aloe" and " Malgach Aloe," the former giving a larger percentage of fibre.

New Zealand Hemp. (Phormium tenax. Liliaceae.)

A herbaceous, perennial, bushy, stemless plant with sword-shaped leaves, which are either green or margined and streaked with white ; these are 6-8 ft. long and grow from the base in the form of a fan. It is indigenous to New Zealand, where it covers large areas of swamp land, especially in the south of the North Island. Here the crop grows wild, the only cultural attention given being the removal of surface water by drains and canals ; these and general protective measures are estimated to cost about �1 per acre a year.

Cultivation and yield. The plant is suited to a warm temperate or subtropical climate and deep, heavy, moist soil. Propagated by seed, preferably by suckers ; plants may be spaced 3 X 1 ft. A crop may be obtained 3 years after planting and once in 3 years thereafter, the average yield being about 25 tons of fresh leaf, producing about 10% of fibre, or about 2 tons per acre. The fibre has a high breaking strain and is valued for binder twine, ropes and cordage. It commanded about �30 or more per ton in 1925. The plant has been introduced and cultivated commercially in St. Helena on an extensive scale. Varieties. Several varieties are recognised. The following are among the best in New Zealand : " Tehori," white fibre, very prolific. " Nagaru," much prized by the Maoris. '' Naga-turoa," one of the best. " Mukama," said to have been sold in London for �70 per ton before the War.

Panama Hat Plant; Jippi-jappa or Hippi-happa; Toquilla Palm. (Carludovica palmata. Cyelanthaceae.) � A stemless bush with large, palm-like leaves, similar to those of a fan-palm, with stalks 5-6 ft. long. The flowers, followed by the seed, are produced in cones borne on short stalks rising from the base. A native of Trop. America, it is extensively cultivated in parts of Ecuador, Colombia, etc., for the sake of the leaves, from which the well-known Panama hats are made. The plant is fully developed when about 3 years old, and lives for many years in the same ground. The young leaves are taken once a month, just as they begin to unfold, the stalk being cut 8 or 10 in. below the leaf-blade to facilitate handling. Each leaf is torn into ribbons about � in. wide, and then into shreds by means of an instrument consisting of a piece of wood in which needles are fixed, the larger ribs being rejected. These ribbons (" straw") are submerged in boiling water for about 10-15 minutes, being then dried in the sun for 3 hrs., then bleached in a sulphur chamber for a day The " straw " (toquilla) is sold locally at the equivalent of about 2s. per lb. From 8-12 leaves are required to make one hat. A coarse hat can be made in one day, but the best will take 18 days to complete. Introduced to Ceylon in 1866, the plant grows luxuriantly from sea-level to 2,500 ft., preferring a moderately moist, heavy soil and light shade; the latter, however, is not essential.

Toquilla straw is also obtained from Carludovica jamaicensis, and from the young leaves of species of Pandanus and Palms, e.g. the Ita Palm (Mauritia flexuosa) of S. America, and made into hats, baskets, etc. Similar hats and other articles are made in Manila from the tender leaves of Pandanus utilis, and in Ceylon from those of Phoenix zeylanica (q.v.),

Ramie, Rhea-fibre, or " China-grass." (Boehmeria nivea. Urticaceae or Nettle family.) � A perennial shrub, 5-7 ft. high, with large, heart-shaped, crenate, hairy leaves, greyish-white beneath, indigenous to parts of tropical and subtropical Asia, and cultivated in China, Japan and Formosa. From the inner bark of the stems is obtained Ramie or Rhea-fibre, which is pure white, strong, of a silky lustre, and is used in the manufacture of fine linen, gas mantles, etc. The plant thrives in loamy, alluvial or humous soil, up to about 3,000 ft., and requires a warm moist climate for profitable cultivation. It grows well in partial shade, but this is not necessary once the plants are established. The crop is of an exhausting nature, so that good cultivation and manuring are essential. Excessive moisture or drought affects the quality of the fibre.

Propagation and Planting. Propagation is usually by cuttings or suckers, preferably the latter. The soil being dug or ploughed to a depth of 8-10 in., the plants may be spaced about 2 x 3 ft. The production of straight, clean, unbranching stems is essential. Replanting should not be necessary for about 6 or 7 years, and attention to weeding and cultivation is important. A small crop of stems may be obtained about 10 months after planting, and cutting rounds may afterwards to made 2 or 3 times a year. The fibre is not separated from the stems by retting, as in the case of other similar fibres, but is removed either by hand or a decorticating machine. It is then subjected to a chemical process of degumming in order to remove the gummy substances present.

Yield. The annual yield is estimated at about 20 tons of canes per acre, giving about 1 ton of dry ribbons, which furnish about 50% of degummed fibre or filasse. The latter was valued in London in 1925 at from �35 to �40 per ton. The difficulty of decorticating the fibre and removing the gummy substances referred to is the principal drawback to its commercial utilisation. Experimental trials have been made in Ceylon, but notwithstanding satisfactory growth and cheap labour it failed to become an established product.

Varieties. Boehmeria nivea, var. tenacissima, which also furnishes rhea-fibre, has smaller leaves, which are green (not white) underneath, and is probably suited to higher elevations than the preceding species. B. pulchra has large, dark-green, velvety-looking, dentate leaves, and is worth growing for ornament. The name " Wild Rhea " is given in India to Debregeasia velutina (q.v.).

Sisal Hemp or Henequen. (Agave sisalana. Amaryllideae.) � A perennial stemless plant, native of Cent. America, introduced and cultivated commercially in E. Africa, Mauritius, W. Indies, Philippines, Dutch E. Indies, etc. ; introduced to Ceylon in 1890. Sisal-hemp of commerce is furnished by the thick succulent leaves, which are 4-6 ft. long, smooth-edged, with a sharp, terminal, dark-brown spine. The plant flowers when about 7 or 8 years old, producing a central " pole " (spike) 15-20 ft. high, which should be cut down, unless required for the bulbils, at 4 ft. from the ground ; otherwise the growth of the leaves and the quality of the fibre will be affected. The " pole " does not usually produce seed, but if allowed to mature will bear from about 1,500-2,000 or more bulbils, by which the plant reproduces itself.

Cultivation. The plant thrives on well-drained limestone soil in a hot and dry, or only moderately wet, climate. It is drought-resistant, and requires but little cultivation beyond keeping weeds in check and removing suckers. Propagation is by bulbils, as above stated, or suckers. On fairly good soils these may be planted out about 8 x 6 ft., or closer in poor ground. One-year-old bulbils from nursery beds are best for planting; suckers usually "pole" earlier and are less uniform in size. Catch-crops may be grown between the rows for the first 2 or 3 years.

Yield. The first cutting of leaves may usually be made about 3 or 4 years after planting, the lower and mature leaves (not less than 3� ft. long) only being taken. These may average for the first year about 25 leaves per plant. Subsequent cuttings may be made once or twice a year, and extend over 4�5 years, averaging a total of about 150-180 leaves for each plant. The plantation has then to be renewed, after the ground has been cleared and allowed to lie fallow for a year. In Mexico, where growth is comparatively slow, these periods may be considerably extended, the life of the plants being often as much as 10 -15 years or more, but the yield is lower. A heavy rainfall and rich soil reduce the percentage of fibre, but increase the leaf and therefore the yield. The yield of fibre is about 3% in a wet climate, and 4% m dry, or about 1� tons per acre. It is estimated that 1,000 leaves should give 40-50 lb. of prepared fibre. The latter must be extracted within 24 hrs. of cutting the leaves. It is then cleaned, placed on lines in the sun to bleach and dry, and afterwards baled for shipment. Sisal is used largely for ropes, cordage, and binder twine. It is now (1935) quoted in London at about �20 per ton, against �42 in 1926.

Yucatan Hemp, Henequen, or Mexican Sisal. (Agave fourcroydes.) � A distinct species, the leaves of which are of a glaucous hue, often with spines along the margins. This is the principal fibre plant of Yucatan, which furnishes about 90% of the Sisal of commerce exported. It is said to yield a larger percentage of fibre than the Sisal plant, though consider ed inferior to that of the latter. Cultural requirements the same as for Sisal; but the very spiny leaves are a drawback from a cultural standpoint. (See " Zapupe Fibre.")

Abroma augusta (Sterculiaceae.) Devil's Cotton ; Ulatkambal.� Tall, quick growing shrub of India and Java, with large angular leaves, obtained by retting, used for ropes and cordage.

Abutilon Avicennae. (Malvaceae.) Chinese Jute; Indian Mallow.�An annual extensively cultivated in China for its fibre, yielding about a ton per acre.

Adansonia digitata. Baobab Tree. Fibre from inner bark used for ropes and cordage. Cultivated in parts of India, Madagascar and Africa (q.v.).

Agave Cantula. Maguey or Cantala Fibre. Cultivated in the Philippines and in Java, and known as " Cantala." Usually planted 6 x 6 ft. The leaves are ready for cutting in from 4 to 5 years from planting, each plant producing 25 or 30 mature leaves a year for 2 or 3 years, yielding 2-3% fibre, or about 1� tons per acre. Cutting may be carried on for about 3 years, when the plant ceases to be productive.

Allaeanthus zeylanicus. Alandu, S. (Urticaceae.) A small, spreading tree of Ceylon; yields coarse fibre used for ropes, etc.

Ananas Magdalenae. Wild Pineapple ; Pita Fibre, or Colombia Pita. (Bromeliaceae.) A stemless plant, with leaves 8-10 ft. long, 3-4 in. broad at the butt end, ed spines along margins, forming large areas ("pitales") of forest undergrowth, chiefly at medium elevations, in Colombia, etc.; thrives under natural shade and in friable humous soil. The leaves yield strong, durable and hard fibre of considerable length. Propagation by suckers, and an acre of 5,000 plants is estimated to yield 1� tons of fibre.

A. sativus. Pineapple Fibre. Certain varieties of Pineapple yield good fibre, for which they are cultivated in Formosa, Philippines, and S. China, the fibre being used in textile fabrics. 1 cwt. of the leaves yields about 2� lb. of prepared fibre. A variety known in the Philippines produces a fine quality of fibre used for fine weaving, as in the celebrated " pina " cloth of that country.

Antiaris toxicaria (A. innoxia). Sack Tree; Upas Tree; Riti,S. Large tree of Ceylon, Java, Moluccas, etc. The dense inner bark, after retting and beating, furnishes a thick fibrous material formerly used for ready-made clothing. Bark-cloth is also furnished by other trees, e.g. Ficus natalensis, Brachystegia sp. in Uganda, Broussonetia in the Pacific Islands, and Couratari sp. in S. America.

Arenga saccharifera. Gomuti-fibre. Bristles obtained from leaf-sheaths exported and used commercially for brushes. (See Sugar Palm.)

Afghan Fibre. A trade name for a species of Bromeliad (Bromeliaceae), a family of herbaceous stemless and mostly spiny plants, extensively distributed over parts of Trop. America, forming a dense undergrowth. Several of the larger species yield' excellent fibre, but are hardly adapted for cultivation.

Asclepias curassavica. (Asclepiadeae.) Erect shrubby perennial of the W. Indies. Fine fibre obtained from stems used for textile fabrics, etc.

Bauhinia racemosa. Mayila, S. (Leguminosae.) Small tree of Ceylon, India, and Malaya. Fibre from inner bark used for ropes and cordage.

Bromelia Pinguin and other species. Large, spiny, pineapple-like plants, yielding a fibre known as Pinguin, Wild-pineapple, Bromelia-pita, or Colombia-pita. Leaves 7-9 ft. long, spines curved forward. Introduced to Ceylon before 1864, now common in hedges about Negombo, etc.

Broussonetia papyrifera. Tapa- or Kapa-fibre; Paper-mulberry. (Moraceae.) �Medium-sized tree of Pacific Islands, with large ovate leaves. Often cultivated commercially on the coppice system in order to obtain long, clean shoots. From these the bark is stripped in ribbons, which after retting yields a fine white fibre. This is joined with arrowroot and beaten together to form the famous " tapa " or " kapa " cloth, which at one time formed the wearing attire of the natives.

Calotropis gigantea. Akund-fibre, Madar-fibre, Wara, S. Manakovi, T. (Asclepiadeae.)�An erect shrub, 6�10 ft. high, common in Ceylon, India, Malaya, etc. Yields from the stems a fine hemp-like fibre, used for fishing-lines, etc. Silky floss from fruit used for stuffing pillows, cushions, etc.

Cocos nucifera. Coir or Coconut-fibre. See Coconut Palm. Husk of fruit, after retting, yields useful fibre largely employed for mats, matting, mattresses, brushes, coarse yarn, cordage, etc., being graded according to uses required for. 27, 250 Tons exported from Ceylon in 1933, valued at about 4s. 6d. per cwt.

Cyperus corymbosus. A sedge of Ceylon, India, etc., 4-5 ft. high. Stems used in India for ropes, grass-mats, etc. C. dehiscens, common in marshy places in India and Ceylon, is also commonly used for grass-mats known in Ceylon as " Panpeduru.".

Cyperus Papyrus. Egyptian Papyrus . The pithy stems (leaf-stalks) furnished the ancient papyrus paper of the Egyptians, for which purpose it is still used to some extent.

Debregeasia velutina. Wild Rhea; Gas-dul, S. (Urticaceae.) Small tree of ; Ceylon, India, Java, etc. Inner bark it affords strong fibre, used for ropes, etc. 

Eryngium pandanifolium.
(Umbelliferae.) Leaves yield the Caraguata-fibre of S. Africa.

Grewia microcos. Keliya, S. (Tiliaceae.) Large shrub, common in low country of Ceylon, India, Malaya, etc. Stems yield strong fibre.

Gyrinops Walla. Walla-patta, S. (Thymelaeaceae.) Small tree of Ceylon; inner bark yields strong fibre used for ropes.

Helicteres Isora. Liniya, S. (Sterculiaceae.) Shrub or small tree, with hazel-like leaves, common in Trop. Asia. Inner bark affords tough fibre.

Hibiscus cannabinus. Deccan Ambari or Bombay-hemp ; Bimlipatam Jute. Annual shrub, 8�10 ft. high, with prickly stems, native of and cultivated in India,malso in Nigeria, etc., for the fibre obtained from the inner bark. Plants grown closely yield about 2 tons of fibre per acre. The fibre is of commercial value and exported from Bombay.

H. elatus. Cuba-bast, Mountain Mahoe. Moderate-sized quick-growing tree of the W. Indies. Useful fibre obtained from inner bark.

H. tiliaceus. Beli-patta, S. A large shrub or small tree, common at low elevations, chiefly near seacoasts, in the tropics. Yields strong fibre, used for ropes, cordage, etc.

H. Sabdariffa, var. altissima. Rozelle Hemp ; " Rama " (W. Trop. Africa) .� A quick-growing, annual shrub, yielding a strong, jute-like fibre from inner bark of stems. This variety has erect stems, reaching a height of 10-12 ft. or more. The crop prefers flat or undulating land and deep loamy soil. Seed maybe sown in drills, about 12 x 18 in., at the rate of about 121b. per acre. Close spacing ensures straight erect stems, which yield the best fibre. The crop should be ready for cutting about 5-6 months from sowing, and a yield per acre of 1 to 1� tons of prepared fibre should be obtained. Retting takes about 8 � 10 days, and the fibre is afterwards cleaned by hand, then dried and bleached in the sun, after which it is made up into bales for export. The fibre was quoted in London in 1925 at about �20 per ton for " uncombed," and �30 for " combed " grades.

Honckenya ficifolia. Bolo-bolo, Napunti, Potepo. (Tiliaceae.) Annual shrub of Trop. Africa. Stems yield excellent fibre known locally by these names.

Kitul Fibre. Similar to Piassava. A black bristle-fibre, 2-2 � ft. long, obtained from the leaf bases of Caryota urens, the Toddy-, Kitul-, or Jaggery-palm. Kitul fibre was exported from Ceylon in 1929 to the extent of over 1,500 cwt., valued at the equivalent of about 45s. per cwt.

Lagetta lintearia. Lace-bark Tree; Lagetto. (Thymelaeaceae.) Small slow-growing tree of Jamaica. The inner bark consists of concentric layers of fine interlacing fibres, resembling lace ; used for ornaments, etc.

Lasiosiphon eriocephalus. Naha, S. (Thymelaeaceae.) Bushy shrub of Ceylon and S. India, 6-8 ft. high; inner bark yields good fibre.

Lufia aegyptiaca. Loofah or Sponge Gourd. (Cucurbitaceae.) An annual gourd the oblong fruit of which when retted in water yields a network of fibre, commonly used for bath or vegetable sponges. Produced largely in Japan for export.

Palmyra Fibre. Strong, wiry, black bristle-fibre, similar to kitul-fibre, obtained from the butt ends of the leaves of Borassus flabellifer (Palmyra Palm). Formerly largely exported from Ceylon and valued at about 45s. per cwt. The fibre is usually made up into small bundles about 9-12 in. in length.

Pandanus utilis. Screw-pine ; Vacoa or Bacoa. A shrubby plant of Mauritius, Madagascar, etc., commonly grown along boundaries of sugar-fields. Leaves woven into mat-bags and largely used for lining sugar-sacks for export, these being afterwards used as fish-bags, etc. They are also employed locally for thatching. Young leaves of this and other spp. are used in Philippines for making fine Manila-hats.

Phoenix zeylanica. Ceylon Date-palm ; Indi, S. The young leaves, being bleached by dipping for about 15 minutes in boiling water, are made into hats, fancy baskets, etc. in Ceylon.

Piassava ; Bast, Bass-, or Dass-fibre. The commercial term for the long, wiry, flexible bristle-fibre, brown or black in colour, obtained from the leaf -bases of certain palms and used in the manufacture of brooms, whisks and brushes. Bahia Piassava is obtained from Attalea funifera, Para Piassava from Leopoldinia Piassava, both Brazilian species. Madagascar Piassava is from Dictyosperma fibrosum, and W. African Piassava from Raphia vinifera (Wine-palm) and R. Hoolceri. The market price of piassava, in 1929 ranged, according to quality, from �30 to �38 per ton for " Bahia," and from �28 to �32 for " African." The principal sources are Brazil and Liberia.

Pueraria thunbergiana. Ko-hemp ; Kudzu. (Leguminosae.) Useful fibre obtained from stems ; cultivated in China and Japan. (See Green Manures.)

Raffia-tape or bass. A well-known material used for tying purposes and for mats, baskets, etc., is derived from the cuticle of the leaves of Raphia Ruffia, a handsome palm of Madagascar with very large, arching, feathery leaves, 22�25 ft. long, and enormous spadices 10�15 ft. long. Raffia is largely exported from Madagascar, and retailed in England at about 3s.-4s. per lb.

Sansevieria or Bowstring-Hemp ; Niyanda, S; Marai, T. (Sansevieria zeylanica. Haemodoraceae.) � A herbaceous plant with succulent, rigid, concave or furrowed leaves, blotched and mottled with grey, 4-5 ft. high, native of Ceylon, India, etc. It is naturally found in dry or rocky soil at low elevations, but thrives also in a moist climate up to 2,000 ft. or higher, and is readily propagated by seed, suckers or leaf-cuttings. Planted in rows about 2 x 1 ft., it takes 2-3 years to become fit for harvesting. When in full bearing it is estimated to yield about 1 ton or more fibre per acre. The silky white, tough fibre is used for weaving into fine mats, twine, etc., and by natives for bowstrings. It was valued in London in 1925 at �30 per ton.

S. Cylindrica. Trop. Africa. Ife Hemp. Cylindrical, erect leaves, 4-5 ft. long; propagated by suckers or seeds. Yields fine, white fibre.

S. Ehrenbergii. Somaliland, in arid districts ; leaves yield good fibre.

S. guineensis. Konje Hemp ; Sword-plant. Trop. Africa. Leaves flat, sword-shaped, 3-5 ft. long by 3-4 in. broad, banded and blotched with grey. Thrives in arid or moist shady places. Yields fine, white fibre, used for ropes and mats.

S. Roxburghii. Murva- or Moorva-fibre. From the upright fleshy leaves is obtained a white fibre, used in India for fine mats, hats, etc.

Sesbania aculeata. Dhanicha or Dhunchi. Erect annual. Strong and durable fibre obtained from stems, used for ropes and cordage.

Sida rhombifolia. Kotikan-bevila, S; Chittamadi, T. (Malvaceae.) Erect shrub, common in most trop. countries; stems afford good fibre. S. tiliaefolia. Cultivated in China; excellent fibre obtained from stems.

Sorghum Fibre or Broom Corn. (Sorghum vulgare var. Gramineae.) � A variety of Dhurra or Kaffir-corn, cultivated in some warm temperate countries, as in the U. States, Italy, etc. for its large panicles of grain-heads which, being cut while green, are largely employed for carpet brooms and whisk brushes. The "fibre" should be not less than 15 in. in length, and must not be coarse or brittle. Average yield about 7�10 cwt. of clean fibre per acre. Sowing is at the rate of about 6 lb. of seed per acre, the seed being sown in rows 3 ft. apart. A crop is obtained in 4�5 months, the " fibre " being dried in the shade and afterwards graded. It is usually valued at about �20 per ton.

Sterculia Balanghas. Nawa, S. (Sterculiaceae.) Small tree of Ceylon, India and Malaya. Inner bark yields strong fibre, used for cordage, etc.

Tampico Hemp. Istle Fibre. (Agave heteracanlha.) A large succulent, stemless plant of Mexico, yielding a fibre resembling Yucatan Hemp (q.v.).

Touchardia latifolia. Olona. (Urticaceae.) .Shrub of Hawaii; yields fibre used for fishing-nets, etc.

Trachycarpus excelsus. Chinese-coir or Hemp-palm. Small sub-tropical palm of S. China. Coarse fibre from leaf-sheaths used for brushes, etc.

TriumSetta rhomboidea. Epala, S. (Tiliaceae.) Common shrubby perennial or annual, 5-6 ft. high ; yields useful fibre from inner bark, used for ropes, etc.

Urena lobata. Aramina-fibre (Brazil); Patu-epala, iS. (Malvaceae.) Large, erect shrub, common in tropics; stems yield jute-like fibre, used for cordage, etc. Cultivated in Madagascar, Cuba and Brazil, being used for coffee-bags, etc.

Vegetable Hair. A kind of curled fibre, much used for stuffing in upholstery, is obtained from base of stem of Chamaerops humilis, a dwarf fan-palm of N. Africa. Large quantities are exported annually from Algeria, being usually quoted in England at from �5 to �6 per ton for " green," and �7��8 for " black " fibre.

Villebrunia integrlfolia. Wild- or Ban-Rhea. (Urticaceae.) Small shrubby tree, found at medium to high elevations in forests of Ceylon, Bengal, Burma, Malays, etc. Strong fibre obtained from stems used for coarse ropes, etc.

Wissadula zeylanica. Kiri-kaju, S. (Malvaceae.) Erect shrubby plant, 5-6 ft. high, common in low-country of Ceylon and tropics generally. Strong fibre obtained from stems.

Zapupe Fibre is obtained in Mexico from several species of Agave, of which the most important is A. Zapupe, resembling Sisal Hemp. It is claimed to be superior to, and to yield a crop earlier than, Sisal. An average annual yield of about 2 lb. of fibre per plant is said to be obtained annually, in 3 cuttings. Valued in England in 1928 at about �30 per ton.

Aeschynomene aspera. Pith-plant; Shola ; Maha-diya-siyambala, S. (Leguminosae.) � Aquatic or marsh shrub of Ceylon, India, Malaya, etc., common near seacoast. Stems spongy, upright or floating, 2-3 in. diameter. Qut into slices, they are largely used in India for making pith-hats or topees.

Anona palustris. Pith-tree; Cork-wood; Pond-apple; Alligator-apple. (Anonaceae.)�A small tree inhabiting swampy land in Trop. America and W. Indies. Wood light and pithy, used for floats, corks, etc.

Borassus flabellifer. Palmyra Palm (q.v.). � The young fan-shaped leaves are made into olas, which are used for writing on with an iron stylus.

Cecropia peltata. Trumpet-Tree. (Urticaceae.) � Small or medium-sized tree of Trop. America and W. Indies, with large palmate leaves. Hollow shoots used for musical instruments, etc. Inner bark yields coarse fibre. Lvs. used as sandpaper.

Coiypha umbraculifera. Tala-gaha, S; Talipot Palm. The large fan-shaped leaves are made into olas, being written on with a metal stylus and bound in volumes ; also used for umbrellas, thatching, etc.

Fatsia (Aralia) papyrifera. Rice-paper Plant. (Araliaceae.) � Shrub 8-12 ft. high, with large, coarse, palmate leaves, silvery white on under side. The stems, being light and pithy, are made into rice-paper. Native of Formosa, introduced to Ceylon in 1856; now occasionally found naturalised by roadsides up-country, spreading by underground rhizomes. Suited to subtropical conditions. A troublesome weed in some countries.

Heiminiera elaphroxylon. Nile Pith-tree; Ambash. (Leguminosae.) � Small aquatic or marsh tree of Trop. Africa, with spiny stems. Wood white and spongy, used for floats, etc.; also cut into slices and used for sola or sun-hats.

Ochroma Lagopus ( q.v..).

Scaevola Koenigii. Takkada, or Taccada Pith. (Goodenoviaceae.) � Large shrub, 8-12 ft. high, common on seacoast of Eastern tropics. Wood white and pithy, resembling that of the Rice-paper plant (Fatsia).

Sonneratia acida and other spp. Mangrove ; Kirilla, S. (Lythraceae.) Large, spreading shrubs, common by lagoons. Root- and branch-wood soft and pithy, used for corks, entomologists' boxes, etc.

The rattans or canes of commerce are the long, slender stems of certain climbing palms, divested of the spiny leaf-sheaths of their pinnate leaves. They consist chiefly of species of Calamus, a large genus indigenous mostly to Trop. Asia, producing several stems from the base and climbing or spreading by means of sharp recurved spines, reaching from tree to tree and often attaining a length of 300-600 ft. or more. Rattans (from rotang, Malaya) are a product of hot, humid forests, chiefly of Malaya, Ceylon, Borneo, Siam, Philippines and Java, and obtained under licence. The chief port of export is Singapore.

The largest rattans are furnished by the stems of C. rudentum, G. ornatus, O. palustris and C. zeylanicus, and are used entire, as for cables, tying timber rafts, making bridges, cart-hoods, etc. The smaller canes, as C. javanicus, are used for chairs, window-blinds, saddlery, basket-work, mats, etc. Those of medium thickness, as O. Rotang, which is of the size of the thumb, are usually split into strips of uniform width and length, the inner pithy portion being removed, leaving the external portion, which is hard, flexible and tough; the outer surface is smooth, silicious and polished. These strips are used extensively for chair bottoms, bags, hats, etc. The finest and most valued rattans are, when entire, of the thickness of the little finger. These fetch locally about 26s. per picul.

Rattans are imported into Ceylon from Singapore to some extent, being valued at about 28s. per cwt. They are also collected in Ceylon, chiefly in the forests of the drier districts of the E. Province, as a forest produce by licence. Malacca Canes (walking-sticks) are obtained from the stems of non-climbing Calamus, the best of which is C. scipionum, on account of its very long internodes, sometimes as much as 5 ft. C. bacularis, also a non-climbing species, is similarly employed and is valued for tool handles, fishing-rods, etc.; also Rhapis and Licuala.

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