Exercise B Economic Fibers

Botanically, the term fiber describes one type of sclc-renchyma cell, but commercially the term has a much broader definition and includes other plant ccll types as well as animal and synthetic sources of fabrics. Since prehistoric times, plants have been used as a source of material for textiles and cordage. Archacological evidence indicates the Swiss Like dwellers used linen fabric 10,000 years ago. Similar evidence for the use of cotton has been discovered in excavations in coastal Peru.

Commercial fibers are categorized as bast libers, hard fibers, and surface fibers. Bast fibers, or soft fibers, arc phloem fibers from a variety of dicot stems. Bast fibers may or may not contain lignin, bur they are always soft and flexible. The best-known bast fibers are linen or flax (Linutn usitatissimum)y hemp (Cannabis sativa )% jute (Corehorus eapsularis)% and ramie (Boehweria nivea).

Hard fibers arc derived from certain leaves, where bundles of fibers are associated with the vascular bundles (rig. 3.5). These fibers typically have heavily lignificd walls and feel hard and stiff to the touch. Sisal {Agave sisalina) and Manila hemp (Musa textilis) arc widely used hard fibers. Today they arc mainly used to produce rope, although in the past these fibers were used to make fabric as well.

Surface fibers arc found on die surface of seeds and fruits. The best-known surface fiber is cotton (Gossyp-iunt spp ). Cotton fibers arc seed hairs (trichomcs) that cover the surface of a cotton seed. .As many as 20,000 trichomcs may be present on a single seed. The trichomcs are long and composed of approximately 90% ccllulose. Other surface fibers includc kapok Ceiba penrandra) and coir (Coeos nucijera).

One final type of botanical fabric that should be considered is bark cloth, a primitive fabric made in trop-

Rbers

Rbers

Kapok Cell
FIGURE 3.5 HARD FIBERS OCCUR IN CERTAIN LEAVES. WHERE THEY ARE ASSOCIATED WITH THE VASCULAR BUNDLES.

ical and subtropical countries from the soft inner bark of certain trees, in the Pacific Islands, paper mulberry (Hroussonetia papyrifera trees are the source of bark cloth. To prepare this fabric, the inner bark is cut into narrow strips, alternately soaked in water to soften the fibers, and then beaten with a mallet. The result is a well-matted, thin, and flexible material. Bark cloth is known as tapa cloth in the South Pacific and kapa cloth in Hawaii. Today, it is primarily used for decorative and ceremonial objects. A similar type of bark cloth is made in Mexico and Central America from the bark of Fictis trees. This bark cloth is presently used for decorative bark paintings called aware (see cover photo), but it was used as paper by the Aztcc civilization.

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Responses

  • curtis
    What is seed fiber in botany?
    8 years ago

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