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A general name given to any of several coarse, durable bast fibers obtained from a variety of plants, e.g., Hibiscus cannabinus (Deccan hemp, Kenaf, Paco-paco), Musa textilis (Manila hemp- see Abaca) or Agave sisalana (Sisal hemp- see Sisal). Indian hemp (Cannabis sativa), also called true hemp, is an ancient crop cultivated in Asia for its fibers as early as 2800 BCE. Hemp fibers range from 1-2 meters long and are yellow to brown in color. They have a high Cellulose content with little Lignin. Hemp is lustrous, strong and durable with good resistance to Water, salts, light, and insects. Hemp is used for cordage, fish lines, Sailcloth, Canvas, and Burlap.

Indian hemp Cannabis sativa

Synonyms and Related Terms

Indian hemp; marijuana; ganja; chanvre (Fr.); Hibiscus cannabinus (Deccan hemp); Musa textilis (Manila hemp); Agave sisalana (Sisal hemp); Cannabis sativa (Indian hemp, true hemp, or marijuana); almindelig Hamp (Dan.); Hanf (Deut.); chanvre (Fr.); hennep (Ned.) cânhamo (Port.); hampan (Sven.); cáñamo (Esp.)

Other Properties

Resistant to water and alkalis. Damage by weak acids and bleaches.

Fiber length = 1-2 m; Fiber width = 9-40 microns

Thermal conductivity = 0.040 W/m.K Thermal resistance = 2.35 at 2.50 m°C/W.

Paper fiber type: non-woody/bast. Using transmitted light microscopy, fibers are identified by long fibers with dislocations, cross-markings and longitudinal striations. Fibers are wider than those of flax. Unlike flax, the lumen is wide and flat. Appearance with Graff's C-Stain: red when bleached. Average dimensions of fibers: length 25mm, width 25μm. Common pulping method: pulp is wretted, treated with lime, followed by the soda process.

Hazards and Safety

Combustible, may ignite spontaneously when wet.


Additional Information

° G.Cook, Handbook of Textile Fibres:I. Natural Fibres, 5th edition, Merrow Publishing Co., Durham, England, 1984.


Properties of Natural Fibers

Additional Images


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