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ARS Home » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #128135


item Webber Iii, Charles

Submitted to: National Symposium on New Crops and New Uses
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/15/2001
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: For six thousand years the long bark fiber strands of kenaf have been a valuable and important resource for use in cordage products (twine, rope, and sackcloth), and although synthetic fibers now often decrease the use of the bark fiber strands in cordage material, the newer and more complete usefulness of the entire kenaf plant continues to make kenaf a crop of world wide interest. The useful kenaf plant components include the stalks (bark and core), leaves, and seeds. The combined attributes of these components (bark fiber strands and bast fibers, the core material and individual core fibers, and leaf and oil chemistry), provide ample potential product diversity to continue use and development of this crop. Beyond the diverse new uses for kenaf including its utilization in paper products, building materials, absorbents, textiles, and livestock feed, the commercial success of kenaf has important potential economic and environmental benefits in the areas of soil remediation, toxic waste cleanup, removal of oil spills on water, reduced chemical and energy use for paper production, greater recycled paper quality, reduced soil erosion due to wind and water, replacement or reduced use of fiberglass in industrial products, and the increased use of recycled plastics.

Technical Abstract: Kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus L., Malvaceae) has been domesticated for over six thousand years. The ongoing interest in this crop is the result of its continued usefulness. Historically the most useful portion of the plant has been the bark fiber strands, which have been used for various cordage products (rope, twine, and sack cloth). As a warm season annual fiber crop, closely related to cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L., Malvaceae) and okr (Abelmoschus esculentus L., Malvaceae), kenaf continues to be of interest to modern society. This is due to the increasingly diverse uses for the different plant components, including the bark and core material, the bast and core fiber, and the protein and oil content in the leaves and seeds. The diverse new uses for kenaf include its utilization in paper products, building materials, absorbents, textiles, and livestock feed. The purpose of this manuscript is to provide an overview of the kenaf yield components and the factors influencing the plant's composition.