Belongs to the family of the banana plant (Musaceae family) and is indigenous to the Philippines. The banana plant and the abaca plant has a striking similarity in looks but the main difference is that the fruit of the abaca plant is inedible. Its fiber is known as the Manila Hemp. Abaca is not a hemp but since hemp was the main source of fiber for centuries, the abaca fiber was named Manila hemp. Abaca has been cultivated in the Philippines since the 1500s and became known worldwide in the 1800s mainly used as ropes in ship rigging.
The abaca plant grows up to twenty feet when mature. About 2 to 4 times a year the trunk is cut down above the roots to harvest the fiber. New sprouts will grow from the roots soon after cutting. Leaf sheaths are then stripped and pulp is scrapped off to get the abaca fiber strands. To make ropes, the strands are twisted together. These strands are mainly composed of cellulose, pectin and lignin. >> [ READ MORE ]