Abacá (// ah-bə-kah; from 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 is of great economic importance, being harvested for its fiber, once generally called Manila hemp, extracted from the trunk or pseudostem. On average, the plant grows about 12 feet (4 meters) tall. The fiber was originally used for making twines and ropes; now most abacá 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, henequin and sisal. The leaves grow from the trunk of the plant, the bases of the leaves form a sheath (covering) around the trunk; there are approximately 25 of these, with 5 cm in diameter and from 12 to 25 leaves with overlapping petioles, covering the stalk to form a shrub, "false trunk" or pseudostem about 30 to 40 cm in diameter. They grow in succession, with the oldest growing from the bottom of the trunk and successively younger ones from the top. The sheaths contain the valuable fiber. The coarse fibers range from 5 to 11½ feet (1.5 to 3.5 metres) in length. They are composed primarily of cellulose, lignin, and pectin. The abacá plant belongs to the banana family, Musaceae; it resembles the closely related wild seeded bananas, Musa acuminata andMusa balbisiana. Its scientific name is Musa textilis. Within the genus Musa, it is placed in section Callimusa (now including the former section Australimusa), members of which have a diploid chromosome number of 2n = 20. Before synthetic textiles came into use, M. textilis was a major source of high quality fiber: soft, silky and fine. Abacá was first cultivated on a large scale in Sumatra in 1925 under the Dutch, who had observed its cultivation in the Philippines for cordage since the nineteenth century, followed up by plantings in Central America in 1929 sponsored by theU.S. Department of Agriculture. Commercial planting began in 1930 in British North Borneo; with the commencement of World War II, the supply from the Philippines was eliminated by the Japanese. Today, abacá is produced commercially in only three countries: Philippines, Ecuador, and Costa Rica. Yields are highest in Costa Rica, but the industry is new and planted acreage limited. The Philippines produces 85% of the world's abacá, and the production employs 1.5 million persons. The annual yields have suffered from increased prevalence of crop pathogens.. Most abacá fiber is pulped and processed into specialty paper used in tea bags, vacuum bags, currency, and more. It can be used to make handcrafts like bags, carpets, clothing and furniture. Abacá rope is very durable, flexible and resistant to salt water damage, allowing its use in hawsers, ship's lines and fishing nets. A 1 inch (2.5 cm) rope can require 4 metric tons (8,800 lb) to break. Abacá fiber was once used primarily for rope, but this application is now of minor significance. Lupis is the finest quality of abacá.Sinamay is woven chiefly from abacá.. The plant is normally grown in well-drained loamy soil, using pieces of mature root planted at the start of the rainy season. Growers harvest abacá fields every three to eight months after an initial growth period of 12–25 months and a total lifespan of about 10 years. The slopes of volcanoes provide a preferred growing environment. Harvest generally includes having several operations concerning the leaf sheaths:
- tuxying (separation of primary and secondary sheath)
- stripping (getting the fibers)
- drying (usually following tradition of sun-drying).
In Costa Rica, more modern harvest and drying techniques are being developed to accommodate the very high yields obtained there. Abaca fibre, which is widely known as manila hemp, is versatile and flexible in use. It used to be mainly used in industrial cordage, handicraft, fashion products such as hats and accessories, home and house ware and decorative products. Nowadays Abaca shows promise as an energy-saving replacement for glass fibres in automobiles. Abaca is extracted from the leaf sheath around the trunk of the Abaca plant a close relative of the banana, native to the Philippines and widely distributed in the humid tropics. Harvesting Abaca is labourious. Each stalk must be cut into strips which are scraped to remove the pulp. The fibres are then washed and dried. Abaca is a leaf fibre, composed of long slim cells that form part of the leaf's supporting structure. Lignin content is a high 15%. Abaca is prized for its great mechanical strength, buoyancy, resistance to saltwater damage, and long fibre length – up to 3 m. The best grades of Abaca are fine, lustrous, light beige in colour and very strong.
The botanical name of abaca is Musa Textilis, a tree-like herb which is of the same genus as the common banana which it closely resembles. It is indigenous to the Philippines.
The abaca plant to the untrained eye, can easily be mistaken for the banana plant - without the fruit.
The abaca plant is smaller than the banana although some varieties under favorable conditions can even be taller or at least equal the height of the banana plant.
Abaca, however differs from the banana through the following characteristics:
- Abaca leaves are narrower with pointed ends and the genral coloration of the leaves are glossy dark green about 8 feet in length, 12 feet in width. Whereas banana plants have leaves that are broader and the color is somewhat lighter green.
- The hearts, trunks and fruits of the banana plant are relatively bigger compared with thaht of the abaca plant. The abaca fruit is smaller, neither so palatable as that of the banana.
- The stem of the abaca grows to a height of 9 to 12 feet; 3 inches in thickness
- When mature, the abaca plant consists of about 12 to 30 stalks radiating from a central root system. Each of these stalks is about 12 to 20 feet high. The stalk is the source of fibers.
- The abaca plant is easy to grow. It propagates itself through suckering, or the growing of shoots from the roots.
- The abaca plant grows to about 10 to 15 feet high.
- Initially it requires 2 to 4 years for the baca plant to ripen. However, the abaca can grow shoots that develop roots and become ready for harvest in 4 to 8 months after the initial crop.
- When all the leaves have been formed from the stem, flower buds develop, at which time the plant has reached maturity and is then ready for harvest.
Abaca is also popularly known worldwide as "Manila Hemp". However it is not related to the true hemp.The name "hemp" is from the old English word "hanf" which came into use in the Middle English bt 1000 AD and belongs to the plant cannabis sativa . However, the abaca is not the common hemp plant from cannabis sativa. "Hemp" has come to be used as a generic term for all long fibers. The word "hemp" is generic for plants that contain a fiber called "bast". The abaca is a hard fiber (referring to its stiffness) and is entirely different from the true hemp which is a soft fiber and is the product of cannabis sativa.
Banana Fibers / Abaca Fibers Synonyms:
banana fibers, abaca fibers, abaca- banana fiber, orginal bamboo fiber, musa textilis, manila hemp,
Banana Fibers / Abaca Fibers Designations:
Chemical Name: Musa textils
Banana Fibers / Abaca Fibers Description:
a) Banana / abaca fibers come from the banana variety Musa textils, which is commonly known as abaca. The abaca-banana tree, whose leaves are held on a pseudo trunk with extremely long, fiber-reinforced and interwoven leaf stems.
b) They have a high tensile strength and resist rot. Historically they have been used to make rope. They are environment friendly and renewable.
c) They have a promising future as a nano-cellulose reinforcing fiber in automotive plastics.
Banana Fibers Physical Properties (Typical):
Length: 1.5 to 2.7 meters (5 to 9 feet) long
Banana Fibers / Abaca Fibers Typical Applications:
a) A promising new application is in a composite consisting of banana fibers in a polypropylene matrix. The automotive industry has started using this composite in exterior components of a passenger car.
b) Also used in manufacturing of textiles, paper, rope, handloom weaving, air filters, coffee filters, etc.
- Banana Fibers / Abaca Fibers Packaging:
Bobbins. For further information on packaging options contact READE.
Banana Fibers / Abaca Fibers TSCA (SARA Title III) Status:
a) Not listed. An organic material.
b) For further information please call the E.P.A. at +1.202.554.1404
Banana Fibers / Abaca Fibers CAS Number: