ABACA is the sclerenchyma bundles from the sheathing leaf bases of Musa textilis, a plant closely resembling the edible banana plant. These bundles are stripped by hand, after which they are cleaned by drawing over a rough knife. The fibre bundles are now whitish and lustrous, and from six to twelve feet (1.8–3.6 meters) long. Being coarse, extremely strong and capable of resisting tension, they are much used in the manufacture of ropes and cables. Since the fibres swell only slightly when wet, they are particularly suited for the rope that will be used in water.
Waste manila fibres from rope manufacturer and other sources are used in the making of a very tough grade of paper, known as Manilla paper. The fibres may be obtained from both wild and cultivated plants, the latter yielding a product of better grade. The cultivated plants, propagated by seeds, by cuttings of the thick rhizomes or by suckers, are ready for harvest at the end of three years, after which a crop may be expected approximately every three years.
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