Ramie (Boehmeria nivea), commonly known as China grass,
white ramie, green ramie and rhea, is one of the group referred
to as the bast fiber crops. The ramie plant is a hardy perennial
belonging to the Urticaceae or Nettle family, which can be
harvested up to 6 times a year. It produces a large number of
unbranched stems from underground rhizomes and has a crop life
from 6 to 20 years. The fibres need chemical treatment to remove
the gums and pectins found in the bark.
Ramie is one of the oldest vegetable fibers and has been used
for thousands of years. It was used in mummy cloths in Egypt
during the period 5000 - 3000 BC, and has been grown in China
for many centuries. The main producers of ramie today are China,
Brazil, Philipines, India, South Korea and Thailand.
The stems of ramie grow to a height of 1-2.5 meters. The most
suitable climate for ramie is one which is warm and humid, with
an annual rainfall of at least 1000 mm. Well established plant
can tolerate drought and frost, but grow better without. As
ramie productivity is high it can rapidly deplete the nutrients
Chemically ramie is classified as a cellulose fibre, just as
cotton, linen, and rayon. Ramie is often blended with cotton to
make woven and knit fabrics that resemble fine linen to coarse
canvas. Ramie is commonly used in clothing, tablecloths, napkins
and handkerchiefs. It is often blended with cotton in knit
sweaters. Outside the clothing industry, ramie is used in fish
nets, canvas, upholstery fabrics, straw hats and fire hoses.
Within the clothing and textile industry ramie has the following
advantages and disadvantages
Advantages of Ramie
Resistant to bacteria, mildew, alkalis, rotting, light and
Extremely absorbent (this makes it comfortable to wear)
Dyes fairly easy.
Natural stain resistance.
Increases in strength when wet.
Withstands high water temperatures during laundering.
Smooth lustrous appearance improves with washing.
Keeps its shape and does not shrink.
Strong and durable (It is reported to have a tensile
strength eight times that of cotton and seven times greater
Can be bleached.
Disadvantages of Ramie
Low in elasticity.
Low abrasion resistance.
Stiff and brittle.
Necessary de-gumming process.
High cost (due to high labour requirement in production,
harvesting and decortications).
The world ramie production map and available statistics on ramie
is given below: