Fiber crop
Fiber crops are field crops grown for their fiber
Fiber is a class of materials that are continuous filaments or are in discrete elongated pieces, similar to lengths of thread.They are very important in the biology of both plants and animals, for holding tissues together....

s, which are traditionally used to make paper
Paper is a thin material mainly used for writing upon, printing upon, drawing or for packaging. It is produced by pressing together moist fibers, typically cellulose pulp derived from wood, rags or grasses, and drying them into flexible sheets....

, cloth, or rope
A rope is a length of fibres, twisted or braided together to improve strength for pulling and connecting. It has tensile strength but is too flexible to provide compressive strength...

. The fibers may be chemically modified, like in viscose
Viscose is a viscous organic liquid used to make rayon and cellophane. Viscose is becoming synonymous with rayon, a soft material commonly used in shirts, shorts, coats, jackets, and other outer wear.-Manufacture:...

 or cellophane
Cellophane is a thin, transparent sheet made of regenerated cellulose. Its low permeability to air, oils, greases, bacteria and water makes it useful for food packaging...

. In recent years materials scientists
Materials science
Materials science is an interdisciplinary field applying the properties of matter to various areas of science and engineering. This scientific field investigates the relationship between the structure of materials at atomic or molecular scales and their macroscopic properties. It incorporates...

 have begun exploring further use of these fibers in composite materials.

Fiber crops are generally harvestable after a single growing season, as distinct from tree
A tree is a perennial woody plant. It is most often defined as a woody plant that has many secondary branches supported clear of the ground on a single main stem or trunk with clear apical dominance. A minimum height specification at maturity is cited by some authors, varying from 3 m to...

s, which are typically grown for many years before being harvested for wood pulp
Wood pulp
Pulp is a lignocellulosic fibrous material prepared by chemically or mechanically separating cellulose fibres from wood, fibre crops or waste paper. Wood pulp is the most common raw material in papermaking.-History:...

 fiber. In specific circumstances, fiber crops can be superior to wood pulp fiber in terms of technical performance, environmental impact
Environmental degradation
Environmental degradation is the deterioration of the environment through depletion of resources such as air, water and soil; the destruction of ecosystems and the extinction of wildlife...

 or cost.

There are a number of issues regarding the use of fiber crops to make pulp. One of these is seasonal availability. While trees can be harvested continuously, many field crops are harvested once during the year and must be stored such that the crop doesn't rot over a period of many months. Considering that many pulp mills require several thousand tonnes of fiber source per day, storage of the fiber source can be a major issue.

Botanically, the fibers harvested from many of these plants are bast fibers; the fibers come from the phloem
In vascular plants, phloem is the living tissue that carries organic nutrients , in particular, glucose, a sugar, to all parts of the plant where needed. In trees, the phloem is the innermost layer of the bark, hence the name, derived from the Greek word "bark"...

 tissue of the plant. The other fiber crop fibers are seed
A seed is a small embryonic plant enclosed in a covering called the seed coat, usually with some stored food. It is the product of the ripened ovule of gymnosperm and angiosperm plants which occurs after fertilization and some growth within the mother plant...

 padding, leaf
A leaf is an organ of a vascular plant, as defined in botanical terms, and in particular in plant morphology. Foliage is a mass noun that refers to leaves as a feature of plants....

 fiber, or other parts of the plant.

Fiber crops

  • Bast fibers (Stem-skin fibers)
    • Jute
      Jute is a long, soft, shiny vegetable fibre that can be spun into coarse, strong threads. It is produced from plants in the genus Corchorus, which has been classified in the family Tiliaceae, or more recently in Malvaceae....

       (widely used, cheapest fiber after cotton)
    • Flax
      Flax is a member of the genus Linum in the family Linaceae. It is native to the region extending from the eastern Mediterranean to India and was probably first domesticated in the Fertile Crescent...

       (produces linen
      Linen is a textile made from the fibers of the flax plant, Linum usitatissimum. Linen is labor-intensive to manufacture, but when it is made into garments, it is valued for its exceptional coolness and freshness in hot weather....

    • Indian hemp
      Apocynum cannabinum
      Apocynum cannabinum is a perennial herbaceous plant that grows throughout much of North America - in the southern half of Canada and throughout the United States. It is a poisonous plant: Apocynum means "poisonous to dogs"...

       (The Dogbane used by native Americans.)
    • Hemp
      Hemp is mostly used as a name for low tetrahydrocannabinol strains of the plant Cannabis sativa, of fiber and/or oilseed varieties. In modern times, hemp has been used for industrial purposes including paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, construction, health food and fuel with modest...

       (A soft, strong fiber, edible seeds.)
    • Hoopvine (Also used for barrel hoops and baskets, edible leaves, medicine.)
    • Kenaf
      Kenaf [Etymology: Persian], Hibiscus cannabinus, is a plant in the Malvaceae family. Hibiscus cannabinus is in the genus Hibiscus and is probably native to southern Asia, though its exact natural origin is unknown. The name also applies to the fibre obtained from this plant...

       (The interior of the plant stem is also used for fiber. Edible leaves.)
    • Nettle
      Nettles constitute between 24 and 39 species of flowering plants of the genus Urtica in the family Urticaceae, with a cosmopolitan though mainly temperate distribution. They are mostly herbaceous perennial plants, but some are annual and a few are shrubby...

    • Ramie
      Ramie is a flowering plant in the nettle family Urticaceae, native to eastern Asia. It is a herbaceous perennial growing to 1–2.5 m tall; the leaves are heart-shaped, 7–15 cm long and 6–12 cm broad, and white on the underside with dense small hairs—this gives it a silvery appearance;...

       (A nettle
      Nettles constitute between 24 and 39 species of flowering plants of the genus Urtica in the family Urticaceae, with a cosmopolitan though mainly temperate distribution. They are mostly herbaceous perennial plants, but some are annual and a few are shrubby...

      , stronger than cotton or flax, makes "China grass cloth")
  • Other fibers (Leaf, fruit, and other fibers)
    • Abacá
      Abacá, Musa textilis is a species of banana native to the Philippines, grown as a commercial crop in the Philippines, Ecuador, and Costa Rica. The plant is of great economic importance, being harvested for its fibre, once generally called Manila hemp, extracted from the trunk or pseudostem. On...

       (A banana, producing "manila" rope from leaves)
    • Bamboo fiber
    • Bowstring Hemp
      Sansevieria trifasciata
      Sansevieria trifasciata is a species of Sansevieria, native to tropical West Africa from Nigeria east to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is an evergreen herbaceous perennial plant forming dense stands, spreading by way of its creeping rhizome, which is sometimes above ground, sometimes...

      , (An old use of a common decorative agave, also Sansevieria roxburghiana, Sansevieria hyacinthoides)
    • Cotton
      Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. The botanical purpose of cotton fiber is to aid in seed dispersal....

    • Coir
      Coir is a natural fibre extracted from the husk of coconut and used in products such as floor mats, doormats, brushes, mattresses etc. Technically coir is the fibrous material found between the hard, internal shell and the outer coat of a coconut. Other uses of brown coir are in upholstery...

       (fiber from the coconut
      The coconut palm, Cocos nucifera, is a member of the family Arecaceae . It is the only accepted species in the genus Cocos. The term coconut can refer to the entire coconut palm, the seed, or the fruit, which is not a botanical nut. The spelling cocoanut is an old-fashioned form of the word...

    • Esparto
      Esparto, or esparto grass, also known as "halfah grass" or "needle grass", Macrochloa tenacissima and Stipa tenacissima, is a perennial grass grown in northwest Africa and the southern part of the Iberian Peninsula employed for crafts .-Esparto paper:It is also used for fiber production for paper...

    • Henequen
      Henequen is an agave whose leaves yield a fiber also called henequen which is suitable for rope and twine, but not of as high a quality as sisal. Alternative spellings are Henequin and Heniquen. It is the major plantation fiber agave of eastern Mexico, being grown extensively in Yucatán,...

       (An agave, useful fiber, but not as high quality as sisal)
    • Kapok
      Ceiba pentandra is a tropical tree of the order Malvales and the family Malvaceae , native to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, northern South America, and to tropical west Africa...

    • Milkweed
    • Papaya
      The papaya , papaw, or pawpaw is the fruit of the plant Carica papaya, the sole species in the genus Carica of the plant family Caricaceae...

    • Phormium ("New Zealand Flax", an agave)
    • Sisal
      Sisal is an agave that yields a stiff fibre traditionally used in making twine, rope and also dartboards. The term may refer either to the plant or the fibre, depending on context...

       (Often termed agave
      Agave is a genus of monocots. The plants are perennial, but each rosette flowers once and then dies ; they are commonly known as the century plant....

    • Umbrella plant
      Umbrella Plant
      The common name Umbrella Plant can refer to several unrelated species:* Cyperus alternifolius * Darmera peltata * Eriogonum longifolium var. harperi...

    • Yucca
      Yucca is a genus of perennial shrubs and trees in the family Asparagaceae, subfamily Agavoideae. Its 40-50 species are notable for their rosettes of evergreen, tough, sword-shaped leaves and large terminal panicles of white or whitish flowers. They are native to the hot and dry parts of North...

       (An agave)

Fiber dimensions

Source of pulp Fiber length, mm Fiber diameter, µm
The term softwood is used to describe wood from trees that are known as gymnosperms.Conifers are an example. It may also be used to describe trees, which tend to be evergreen, notable exceptions being bald cypress and the larches....

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Hardwood is wood from angiosperm trees . It may also be used for those trees themselves: these are usually broad-leaved; in temperate and boreal latitudes they are mostly deciduous, but in tropics and subtropics mostly evergreen.Hardwood contrasts with softwood...

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Wheat is a cereal grain, originally from the Levant region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice...

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Rice is the seed of the monocot plants Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima . As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and the West Indies...

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Esparto grass 1.1 10
Reed (plant)
Reed is a generic polyphyletic botanical term used to describe numerous tall, grass-like plants of wet places, which are the namesake vegetation of reed beds...

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Bagasse is the fibrous matter that remains after sugarcane or sorghum stalks are crushed to extract their juice. It is currently used as a biofuel and as a renewable resource in the manufacture of pulp and paper products and building materials....

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Bamboo is a group of perennial evergreens in the true grass family Poaceae, subfamily Bambusoideae, tribe Bambuseae. Giant bamboos are the largest members of the grass family....

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Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. The botanical purpose of cotton fiber is to aid in seed dispersal....

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External links

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