Lesser known natural fibres

The ingenuity of humans has resulted in a wide range of plant and animal fibres being used to meet their needs.

Giradinia diversifolia, commonly known as Himalayan or Nilgiri nettle is a stem fibre plant that grows wild in the high altitude forests of the middle hills of the Himalayas in Nepal. This plant produces the strong yarn used for making the narrow headbands worn by porters.

Ananas comosus L., a pineapple cultivar is grown especially for its fibre production. To increase fibre yield, the fruits are removed. The leaves yield strong white, silky fibre used to produce the sheer fabric or pinya, for the Barong Tagalog worn as the national dress in the Philippines.

Hesperaloe funifera, a hesperaloe that is related to sisal and a member of the Agavaceae, native to northern Mexico is a fibre plant that produces a fibre that is naturally white thus eliminating the need for bleaching.