Indian hemp

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A bast fiber obtained from retting the stalks of cannabis plants. Indian hemp Cannabis sativa, also called true hemp, is an ancient crop cultivated in central Asia for its fibers as early as 2800 BCE. Its use spread to the Mediterranean region during the first millenia CE and seeds were taken to Chille in the 1500s. Hemp fibers range from 1-2 meters long and are yellow to brown to gray 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.

Synonyms and Related Terms

Cannabis sativa; true hemp; cáñamo indio (Esp.) ; hennep (Ned);

Other Properties

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

Fiber length = 1-2 m. Fibers have a smooth cell wall with horizontal striations that are often packed close together.

Hazards and Safety

Combustible, may ignite spontaneously when wet.

Additional Information

T.Collings, D. Miller, 'The Identification of Oriental Paper Fibers' The Paper Conservator, vol 3, 1978.