A bast fiber obtained from the stems of plants from the nettle family, Boehmeria (formerly Urtica) nivea and Boehmeria tenacissema, native to tropical Asia. Ramie is a soft, fine fiber that has been used in China for paper and fabric since prehistoric times. Its use spread through Europe in the Middle Ages and it has been cultivated since the 1930s in China, Japan, Europe, South America, and the United States. Ramie is a white, durable fiber that is very lustrous and dyes well. Degummed ramie is almost pure cellulose and its fibers are stronger than cotton, hemp, and flax. It is used for twine, fishnets, sewing thread and fabric for clothing, summer suits, dresses, canvas, tablecloths, and upholstery. Ramie has also been used to produce stong paper for linings, banknotes, and cigarettes. The stiff, greenish-yellow fibers produced from hand-cleaning are called China grass. A Chinese fabric woven from ramie is called grass cloth.
- For ramie fiber identification, see http://cameo.mfa.org/wiki/Category:FRIL:_Ramie
Synonyms and Related Terms
Boehmeria nivea; Urtica nivea; Boehmeria tenacissema; China grass; rhea; grass cloth; rami; Chinese linen; Canton linen; grass linen; ramio (Esp.)
Physical and Chemical Properties
Resistant to alkalis; damaged by acids. Fibers length = 15-20 cm (6-8 inches); Fiber width = 12-82 microns with a uniform thickness and blunt ends; Striactions are numerous and occasionally overlap to form x or v shapes; Moisture regain 12%.
Paper fiber type: non-woody/bast. Using transmitted light microscopy, fibers appear long, wide, and flat with a wide lumen. They may appear twisted (similar to Cotton). Walls of fibers have pronounced longitudinal striations that are finer than Flax or Hemp. Appearance with Graff "C" stain: red due to high Alpha cellulose. Average dimensions of fibers: length 120mm, width 50μm. Common pulping method: mechanical separation with alkaline processing. The long fibers impart strength to papers.
Hazards and Safety
Resistant to mildew and insects.
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