A coarse, durable bast fiber obtained from the inner bark of the hemp plant. Used primarily in twines and cords, and recently also in apparel. Hemp is Cannabis grown for fiber, food, fuel, or other non-drug uses. Historically, the textile uses have been most important.
Cannabis grown as hemp is the same species as that grown for marijuana, although millennia of selective breeding has resulted in strains that look quite different. Hemp is planted closely, resulting in tall, slender plants with long fibers. Hemp use dates back to the Stone Age, with hemp fiber imprints found in pottery shards in China over 10,000 years old.
Three groups of cannabis varieties are cultivated today:
- Varieties primarily cultivated for their fiber, characterized by long stems and little branching, called industrial hemp
- Varieties grown for seed from which hemp oil is extracted
- Varieties grown for medicinal or recreational purposes.
Uses: Until its rediscovery in the late 1980s, the use of hemp for fiber production had declined sharply over the past decades, but hemp still occupied an important place amongst natural fibers as it is strong, durable and unaffected by water. The main uses of hemp fiber were in rope, sacking, carpet, nets and webbing. A hemp clothing industry was reborn in the West in 1988, and hemp is being used in increasing quantities in paper manufacturing.
Fibers that absorb water easily such as cotton, linen, or rayon.
Fibers that are normally non-absorptive and repel water such as nylon and polyester.