AskDefine | Define ramie

Dictionary Definition

ramie n : tall perennial herb of tropical Asia with dark green leaves; cultivated for the fiber from its woody stems that resembles flax [syn: ramee, Chinese silk plant, China grass, Boehmeria nivea]

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Noun

  1. a tall, tropical Asian perennial herb, Boehmeria nivea, cultivated for its fibrous stems
  2. the fibre extracted from this plant, resembling flax

Extensive Definition

Ramie (Boehmeria nivea) is a flowering plant in the nettle family Urticaceae, native to eastern Asia. It is a herbaceous perennial growing to 1 - 2.5 m tall; the leaves are heart-shaped, 7-15 cm long and 6-12 cm broad, and white on the underside with dense small hairs - this gives it a silvery appearance; unlike nettles, the hairs do not sting. The true ramie or China Grass also called Chinese plant or white ramie is the Chinese cultivated plant. A second type, is known as green ramie or rhea and is believed to have originated in the Malay Peninsula. This type has smaller leaves which are green on the underside and it appears to be better suited to tropical conditions. Unlike other bast crops, ramie requires chemical processing to de-gum the fibre.
Harvesting is done just before or soon after the beginning of flowering. It is done at this time because at this stage there is a decline in plant growth and the maximum fiber content is achieved.

Uses

Despite its strength, ramie has had limited acceptance for textile use. The fiber's extraction and cleaning are expensive, chiefly because of the several steps—involving scraping, pounding, heating, washing, or exposure to chemicals. Some or all are needed to separate the raw fiber from the adhesive gums or resins in which it is ensheathed. Spinning the fiber is made difficult by its brittle quality and low elasticity; and weaving is complicated by the hairy surface of the yarn, resulting from lack of cohesion between the fibers. The greater utilization of ramie depends upon the development of improved processing methods.
Ramie is used to make such products as industrial sewing thread, packing materials, fishing nets, and filter cloths. It is also made into fabrics for household furnishings (upholstery, canvas) and clothing, frequently in blends with other textile fibers (for instance when used in admixture with wool, shrinkage is reported to be greatly reduced when compared with pure wool.) Shorter fibres and waste are used in paper manufacture.
Ramie is also used as an ornamental plant in eastern Asia.

Producers

China leads in the production of ramie and exports mainly to Japan and Europe. Other producers include Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Brazil. Only a small percentage of the ramie produced is available on the international market. Japan, Germany, France and the UK are the main importers, the remaining supply is used domestically.

Sources

ramie in Czech: Ramie
ramie in German: Ramie
ramie in Spanish: Boehmeria nivea
ramie in French: Ramie
ramie in Italian: Boehmeria nivea
ramie in Japanese: カラムシ
ramie in Russian: Рами
ramie in Portuguese: Rami
ramie in Sundanese: Haramay
ramie in Finnish: Rami (kasvi)
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