Native to East Asia and commonly known as China grass, Ramie (Boehmeria nivea) is a flowering plant of the nettle family. Its bark has been used for millennia to make twine and thread, and spun as grass-cloth (or “Chinese linen”). It grows to a height of 3 m. Yields of green plants range from 8 to 20 tonnes per hectare, with fibre yields of 1.5 tonnes reported.
Ramie fibre is white with a silky lustre, similar to Flax in absorbency and density but coarser (25-30 microns). One of the strongest natural fibres, it has low elasticity and dyes easily. Strands of Ramie range up to 190 cm in length, with individual cells as long as 40 cm. Trans-fibre fissures make Ramie brittle but favour Ventilation.
FAO estimates world production of Ramie green plant at 280 000 tonnes in 2005, almost all of it grown in China.
Source: FAO 2009