Nelson, Elton G. National Agricultural Library, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, Maryland.
Last reviewed:August 2019
- Environment and cultivation
- Properties and uses
- Processing and production
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
A plant, Musa textilis, of the banana family that is valuable for its hard fiber (also known as Manila hemp) and native to Borneo and the Philippines. Abaca is one of the strongest of the hard fibers. Commercially, it is known as Manila hemp. The fiber is obtained from the leafstalks of Musa textilis, which is a member of the banana family. The plant (see illustration) resembles the fruiting banana, but it is a bit shorter in stature, bears small inedible fruits, and has leaves that stand more erect than those of the banana; these leaves are also slightly narrower, more pointed, and 5–7 ft (1.5–2.1 m) in length. Relatives of abaca grow wild throughout Southeast Asia, but the plant was domesticated long ago in the southern Philippines. Experiments have succeeded in growing plants that can yield fiber in a few other parts of the world, chiefly Central America and Ecuador, but commercial production has come almost entirely from the Philippines and Borneo. See also: Banana; Fiber crops; Natural fiber; Zingiberales
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