Manila hemp, also known as abacá, is a type of buff-colored fiber obtained from Musa textilis (a relative of edible bananas), which is likewise called Manila hemp as well as abacá. It is mostly used for pulping for a range of uses, including speciality papers. It was once used mainly to make Manila rope, but this is now of minor importance. Abacá is an exceptionally strong fibre, nowadays used for special papers like teabag tissue. It is also very expensive, priced several times higher than woodpulp. Manila envelopes and Manila paper take their name from this fibre.
It is not actually hemp, but named so because hemp was long a major source of fibre, and other fibres were sometimes named after it. The name refers to the capital of the Philippines, one of the main producers of Manila hemp. The hatmaking straw made from Manila hemp is called tagal or tagal straw.
The Philippines, especially the Bicol region in Luzon, has the most Manila hemp or abaca genotypes and cultivars. Genetic analysis using simple sequence repeats (SSR) markers revealed that the Philippines' abaca germplasm is genetically diverse. Abaca genotypes in Luzon had higher genetic diversity than Visayas and Mindanao. Ninety-five (95) percent was attributed to molecular variance within the population, and only 5% of the molecular variance to variation among populations. Genetic analysis by Unweighted Pair Group Method with Arithmetic Mean (UPGMA) revealed several clusters irrespective of geographical origin.
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- Dreher, Denise (1981). From the neck up : an illustrated guide to hatmaking, 1st, Minneapolis, Minn.: Madhatter. ISBN 9780941082006.
- Ginsburg, Madeleine (1990). The hat: trends and traditions, 1st U.S., Hauppauge, N.Y.: Barron's. ISBN 9780812061987. “Tagal.”
- Yllano, O. B., Diaz, M. G. Q., Lalusin, A. G., Laurena, A. C., & Tecson-Mendoza, E. M. (2020). Genetic Analyses of Abaca (Musa textilis Née) Germplasm from its Primary Center of Origin, the Philippines, Using Simple Sequence Repeat (SSR) Markers – The Philippine Agricultural Scientist (en-US).