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Fiber crops are field crops grown for their fibers, which are traditionally used to make paper, cloth, or rope. The fibers may be chemically modified, like in viscose (used to make rayon and cellophane). In recent years materials scientists have begun exploring further use of these fibers in composite materials.
Fiber crops are generally harvestable after a single growing season, as distinct from trees, which are typically grown for many years before being harvested for wood pulp fiber. In specific circumstances, fiber crops can be superior to wood pulp fiber in terms of technical performance, environmental impact 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 tissue of the plant. The other fiber crop fibers are seed padding, leaf fiber, or other parts of the plant.
- Bast fibers (Stem-skin fibers)
- Jute (widely used, cheapest fiber after cotton)
- Flax (produces linen)
- Indian hemp (The Dogbane used by native Americans.)
- Hemp (A soft, strong fiber, edible seeds.)
- Hoopvine (Also used for barrel hoops and baskets, edible leaves, medicine.)
- Kenaf (The interior of the plant stem is also used for fiber. Edible leaves.)
- Ramie (A nettle, stronger than cotton or flax, makes "China grass cloth")
- Other fibers (Leaf, fruit, and other fibers)
- Abacá (A banana, producing "manila" rope from leaves)
- Bamboo fiber
- Bowstring Hemp, (An old use of a common decorative agave, also Sansevieria roxburghiana, Sansevieria hyacinthoides)
- Coir (fiber from the coconut husk)
- Henequen (An agave, useful fiber, but not as high quality as sisal)
- Milkweed (grown for the filament-like pappus in its seed pods)
- Luffa (a gourd which when mature produces a sponge-like mass of xylem, used to make loofa sponge)
- Phormium ("New Zealand Flax", an agave)
- Sisal (Often termed agave)
- Umbrella plant[disambiguation needed]
- Yucca (An agave)
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- Goyal, Hari. "Multiple references to non-wood fibers for paper". PaperOnWeb, PULP & PAPER RESOURCES & INFORMATION SITE. Retrieved 2007-10-19.
- "Agripulp: pulping agricultural crops". Retrieved 2007-10-03.
- "Nonwood Alternatives to Wood Fiber in Paper". Archived from the original on 2007-07-08. Retrieved 2007-10-03.
- Waynesword Plant Fibers Accessed 2010-11-23