Also known as 'Manila hemp,' the abaca plant is actually a small, inedible species of banana, Musa textilis. This plant is grown mostly on small, multi-crop farms in the Philippines where there are som 200 varieties in cultivation. The strong fibers of the stalk are stripped off primarily to make rope, but many Filipinos also make cloth of it; the beautiful clothing of the Bagobo (considered some of the most colourful people in the Philippines), for instance, is woven of abaca. Abaca is also grown in Ecuador where, in contrast to the Philippines, is grown on large estates. It makes an extremely durable fabric, although it is not nearly as soft as cotton.