Abaca (Manila hemp)

abacaAbacá (/ɑːbəˈkɑː/ ah-bə-kah; Spanish: abacá [aβaˈka]), binomial name Musa textilis, is a species of banana native to the Philippines, grown as a commercial crop in the Philippines, Ecuador, and Costa Rica. The plant, also known as Manila hemp, has great economic importance, being harvested for its fiber, also called Manila hemp, extracted from the leaf-stems. The plant grows to 13–22 feet (4.0–6.7 m), and averages about 12 feet (3.7 m). The fiber was originally used for making twines and ropes; now most is pulped and used in a variety of specialized paper products including tea bags, filter paper and banknotes. It is classified as a hard fiber, along with coir.

The plant is normally grown in well-drained loamy soil, using rhizomes planted at the start of the rainy season. In addition, new plants can be started by seeds. Growers harvest abacá fields every three to eight months after an initial growth period of 12–25 months. Harvesting is done by removing the leaf-stems after flowering but before fruit appears. The plant loses productivity between 15 and 40 years. The slopes of volcanoes provide a preferred growing environment. (Source: Wikipedia)

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