Other useful plant fibres



•    There are other important plants fibres as well. Like:


Flax (Linen):

•    Fibres obtained from the stem of the flax plant are woven to make a fabric called linen.

•    It is an annual plant that grows to a height of one metre in cool wet areas.

•    Flax produces linen, a soft, lustrous and flexible creamy white fibre which is easily dyed.

•    It is stronger than cotton but less elastic.

•    Flax fibres are also used in the production of ropes and high-quality paper.

•    Linen does wrinkle but presses easily, although strong creasing will break the fibres.

•    Linen is used for a range of textile products, including clothing and sheets.

•    The more it is worked with and used, the softer and more lustrous it gets.



•    Hemp fibres are obtained from the stem of the hemp plant.

•    Hemp plants grow best in loamy soil.

•    Hemp is a deep-rooted plant which needs little fertiliser.

•    It is used for textiles, rope and fine paper products.

•    It was used historically for items such as ropes and ship sails, it also makes extremely strong paper that doesn't require harsh chemical processing to produce.

•    Hemp fabrics can be machine washed and dried, and they soften considerably after laundering.

•    Hemp fabric is like linen in smoothness, wrinkling easily, but it withstands water better than any other textile product.

•    China is the main producer, with Spain, Korea, the Russian Federation and Chile being other major producers.



•    Coir is the fibre obtained from the outer covering of the fruit of coconut palm.

•    Coconut palms grow to about 25 metres tall in sunny, humid areas on a wide variety of well-drained soils with a constant supply of fresh water.

•    Coir is produced as a by-product of other coconut products such as copra (dried coconut flesh), oil and coconut flesh.

•    The fibrous layer of the fruit is separated from the hard shell by driving the fruit down onto a spike to split it (de-husking).

•    The husks are soaked in water for up to 10 months (retted) then beaten to break away the fibres.

•    The fibres are strong, light and withstand heat and saltwater.

•    Coir is used to make several household products like ropes and floor coverings.

•    Young coconuts produce white fibre, which can be used for the production of yarn, rope and fishing nets.

•    Older coconuts produce brown fibre which can be used for brushes and mattresses.

•    The major exporters, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, produce around 450,000 tonnes annually.


Silk Cotton:

•    Silk cotton is obtained from the silk cotton tree, also called kapok.

•    Silk cotton trees drop their leaves once a year during the dry season leaving bare limbs.

•    Every 5 to 10 years, large bell-shaped flowers appear which have foul-smell.

•    Oil is made from its seeds and is used to make soap.

•    The seeds are edible and are even eaten in some areas of the world.

•    The wood is soft and is used to make dugout canoes, carvings and caskets.


Animal Fibres:

•    Animal fibres are obtained from:

(1) The hair (e.g. wool from sheep, cashmere goat, mohair goat, alpaca, llama, vicuna, yak, camel and angora rabbit)

(2) From secretions (e.g. silk, kosa, tassar)



•    Wool is obtained from the hair on the body of animals like sheep, goat, etc.

•    The process of removing hair from these animals is called shearing.

•    The wool is processed to make yarn which can be either weaved or knitted to make woolen clothes.

•    Woollen fibres retain a lot of air between them because of which they are fluffy.

•    They also trap the body heat so that they are good to wear in winters. Australia is the biggest producer of wool.



•    Silk is a natural protein fibre obtained from a protective covering called cocoon made by silkworm around itself.

•    The process of growing silkworm on mulberry trees and obtaining silk from them is called ‘sericulture’.

•    Silk of Resham is a fibre used widely in India and other Asian countries.

•    China, Japan, Thailand are main producers of silk.