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abacá:see Manila hempManila hemp,
the most important of the cordage fibers. It is obtained chiefly from the Manila hemp plant (Musa textilis) of the family Musaceae (banana family). It is grown mainly in its native Philippine Islands, where it has been cultivated since the 16th cent.
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(also manila hemp, manila fiber), a fiber obtained from the leafstalks of the perennial tropical banana Musa textilis. The plant is native to the Philippine Islands, where it is most widely cultivated. It is also cultivated in tropical regions of Asia, Africa, and South America. In order to obtain the fiber, the plant is cut near the root, the leaf blades are removed (these contain weak fibers that are used for paper production), and the fiber bundles are separated from the flesh of the leafstalk. The average plant yields 0.5 kg of abaca. The elemental fibers are 2-12 mm long. Industrial (complex) fibers consist of elemental fibers that have been glued together. They measure 1-5 m long and are coarse, stiff, even in thickness, durable, and very hygroscopic; they also take color well. Abaca is used for marine cables, because it is relatively resistant to the effects of seawater. Rope twine, fishnets, sacks, and other products are also made from abaca.