Manila Fibre

Abaca is the name by which manila hemp, plants are known in its native country, the Philippine Island, the native name is also commonly used in America and elsewhere. It is a perennial resembling the banana plant. It has a spurous which is formed by the overlapping of its broad leaf stalks, the young leaves forcing their way up through the centre of the stem, the leaves are the source of the fiber, are broad and blade-like and spread out higher up like a crown. The plant flowers when it is about three years old, and its leaves are cut down, yielding a trunk comprising about 20 stalks from 12 feet to 25 feet high and 5 feet to 10 feet inches in diameter at the base. The fiber is obtained by treating strips off the trunk and scraping them as already mentioned.

The Manila Strand

The strands vary in length from 3 to 9 feet and from 0.05 to 0.30 mm in diameter. Apart from the finer fiber which is rather weak and which is used to make fabric "locally" , the coarser fiber which is exported is strong and very light and eminently suited for the manufacture of marine cordage. The best grade is of a light buff colour. The fiber bundles are in a cross-section of a strand showing from 5 to 40 individual fibers.

Ultimate Manila Fibers

The ultimate fibers are from 2.5 to 12 mm in length and from 0.01 to 0.032 mm in diameter. The cross-section is irregularly round or oval in shape and the lumen is very large although usually the lumen is empty. It ocassionally consists granular matter. The fiber cells have thin smooth wall and sharp or pointed end.

Chemical Composition
Cellulose 63.2 %
Hemicellulose 19.5 %
Pectin 0.5 %
Lignin 5.1 %
Water-Solubles 1.4 %
Fat and Wax 0.2 %
Moisture 10.0 %