Abaca ( Musa textilis )

The abaca ( Musa textilis ), also known as Manila hemp, is a native plant of the genus in East Asia bananas ( Musa ) in the banana family ( Musaceae ). It is used as a fiber plant and is used mainly used for the production of salt water resistant hawsers. The name Manila Hemp absorbs the capital of the Philippines as a traditional main port of export terms, but it is misleading in the way not to the genus Cannabis ( cannabis ) is one. As banana fiber or textile banana and other fiber plants from the banana family are called next abaca.


The abaca reaches a height 3-8 meters and a diameter of the apparent strain 12-30 centimeters. The false stem made ​​of a soft core, the actual trunk, and up to 25 closely wound therearound leaf sheaths. Starting from a shallow root system can grow up to 25 vertical bill stems per individual plant. The leaf stalks reach lengths of 60 to 70 centimeters. The long - elliptic leaf blades are 1.2 to 2.4 meters long and 20 to 40 inches wide. The leaf surfaces are colored light green and glabrous, the lower sides are covered with downy hair and brown spotted. From the very strong midrib of the leaves branch off parallel lateral veins.

The inflorescence is long and hanging with red-brown to green bracts, which are closely arranged like roof tiles, have a length of 10 and a width of 6 centimeters. Are located at the bottom of each bract 10 to 12 flowers in two rows. The unisexual flowers are zygomorphic and threefold, while the basal 3-6 flowers are female and the distal flowers female.

The fruits that belong to the botanical berries are green and slightly bent. They reach a length of 5 to 9, and a width of 2-3 centimeters. They are not edible. Add the berries to develop black seeds with a diameter of about 7 millimeters.

Depending on the variety, a lifespan of between five and 25 years will be used as a fiber plant Abacapflanzen generally not more than 15 years. New pseudostems are ready to harvest in about 18 to 24 months, the harvest takes place during flowering.

The chromosome set of the abaca consists of 2n = 20 chromosomes.


The abaca is originally from the Philippines, but is now cultivated due to their use in many parts of South and Southeast Asia and in Central and South America. As a tropical plant it requires fertile soil and regular rainfall.


Natural fiber


Gray, brown

Are mainly used up to two meters long hard fibers of Abacáblätter. The fiber is relatively coarse and has a high tensile strength of 45 to 70 cN / tex. To obtain the fiber, which is also referred to as abaca or Manila, the leaves are cut off at the beginning of the flowering period at the base and sorted according to their age and quality. The innermost and thus youngest leaf sheaths contain the softest and weakest fibers. After removal of the laminae, these are cut into strips in the fresh state and the fibers ( = Leitbündelscheiden ) removed by hand or by machine. They are then separated from the fleshy parts of leaf sheath and placed for drying and bleaching in the sun. After that, they merely have around 10 % of the leaf sheath. For transport, the fibers are pressed into bales or - especially for processing into natural fiber composites - spun into yarn and wound onto spools of thread.

Good plantings provide a yield per hectare of about 4 tons. Denominations of varieties of abaca are (from coarse to fine): bandala, Lupis, Quilot, Tupoz. The color ranges from white to yellow to brown.

The economically important producing countries are the Philippines and Ecuador. Indonesia and Panama produce around 100,000 tonnes per year with a yield of 0.1-1.5 t / ha. The biggest part of it is exported. The value of the global Abacáproduktion is estimated at around 30 million U.S. $, the fibers are almost exclusively exported.


Most of the fiber production is processed into pulp, ie dissolved in water and used for special cellulose products such as paper for tea bags, cigarette paper, sausage casings, banknotes (currently only in Japan) and industrial filters. Also the manila envelope, an envelope for A4 forms with yellow color, was originally made ​​from abaca pulp. Because of their salt-water tolerance, the fibers are also used in the manufacture of ropes and fishing nets; continue hammocks, carpets and transmission belts are made from them. In the automotive industry in 2005 reinforced with abaca fiber polypropylene was used as an alternative to glass fiber reinforced plastic in the production of the spare tire well of the Mercedes A-Class coupes. Currently further areas for appropriate natural fiber composites are being sought.

As a by-product of the fiber utilization enzymes of the plant are used in the cosmetics industry.