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Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Malvales
Family: Malvaceae
Genus: Hibiscus
Species: H. cannabinus
Binomial name
Hibiscus cannabinus

Kenaf [Etymology: Persian],[1] Hibiscus cannabinus, is a plant in the Malvaceae family. Hibiscus cannabinus is in the genus Hibiscus and is probably native to southern Asia, though its exact natural origin is unknown. The name also applies to the fibre obtained from this plant. Kenaf is one of the allied fibres of jute and shows similar characteristics. Other names include Bimli, Ambary, Ambari Hemp, Deccan Hemp, and Bimlipatum Jute.

It is an annual or biennial herbaceous plant (rarely a short-lived perennial) growing to 1.5-3.5 m tall with a woody base. The stems are 1–2 cm diameter, often but not always branched. The leaves are 10–15 cm long, variable in shape, with leaves near the base of the stems being deeply lobed with 3-7 lobes, while leaves near the top of the stem are shallowly lobed or unlobed lanceolate. The flowers are 8–15 cm diameter, white, yellow, or purple; when white or yellow, the centre is still dark purple. The fruit is a capsule 2 cm diameter, containing several seeds.



Dried Kenaf stems

Kenaf is cultivated for its fibre in India, Bangladesh, United States of America, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Africa, Viet Nam, Thailand, parts of Africa, and to a small extent in southeast Europe. The stems produce two types of fibre, a coarser fibre in the outer layer (bast fibre), and a finer fibre in the core. It matures in 100 to 200 days. Kenaf was grown in Egypt over 3000 years ago. The kenaf leaves were consumed in human and animal diets, the bast fiber was used for bags, cordage, and the sails for Egyptian boats. This crop was not introduced into southern Europe until the early 1900s. Today, principal farming areas are China, India, and in many other countries including the following: Seed farms - Texas, USA and Tamaulipas, Mexico; North Carolina, USA , Senegal to name a few.

The main uses of kenaf fiber have been rope, twine, coarse cloth (similar to that made from jute), and paper. In California, Texas and Louisiana, 3,200 acres (13 km²) of kenaf were grown in 1992, most of which was used for animal bedding and feed.

Uses of kenaf fibre include engineered wood, insulation, and clothing-grade cloth. Panasonic has set up a plant in Malaysia to manufacture kenaf fibre boards and export them to Japan, oil and liquid absorbent material, soil-less potting mixes, animal bedding, packing material, cut bast fiber for blending with resins for plastic composites, as a drilling fluid loss preventative for oil drilling muds, for a seeded hydromulch for erosion control and various types of erosion and environmental mats, such as seeded grass mats for instant lawns and moldable mats for manufactured parts and containers.

Kenaf seeds yield a vegetable oil that is edible with no toxins. The kenaf seed oil is also used for cosmetics , industrial lubricants and for biofuel production. Kenaf oil is high in omega polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) which are now known to help in keeping humans healthy. Kenaf seed oil contains a high percentage of linoleic acid (Omega-6) a polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA). Linoleic acid (C18:2) is the dominant PUFA, followed by oleic acid (C18:1). Alpha-linolenic acid (C18:3) is present in 2 to 4 percent. The PUFAs are essential fatty acids for normal growth and health. Furthermore, they are important for reducing cholesterol and heart diseases.

Kenaf Seed oil is 20.4% of the total seed weight which is similar to cotton seed. Kenaf Edible Seed Oil Contains:

  • Palmitic acid: 19.1%
  • Oleic acid: 28.0% (Omega-9)
  • Linoleic acid: 45% (Omega-6)
  • Stearic acid: 3.0%
  • Alpha-linolenic acid: 3% (Omega-3)

Kenaf paper

The use of Kenaf in paper production offers various environmental advantages over producing paper from trees. In 1960, the USDA surveyed more than 500 plants and selected kenaf as the most promising source of "tree-free" newsprint. In 1970, kenaf newsprint produced in International Paper Company's mill in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, was successfully used by six U.S. newspapers. Printing and writing paper made from the fibrous kenaf plant has been offered in the United States since 1992. Again in 1987, a Canadian mill produced 13 rolls of kenaf newsprint which were used by four U.S. newspapers to print experimental issues. They found that kenaf newsprint[2] made for stronger, brighter and cleaner pages than standard pine paper with less detriment to the environment. Due partly to kenaf fibers being naturally whiter than tree pulp, less bleaching is required to create a brighter sheet of paper. Hydrogen peroxide, an environmentally-safe bleaching agent that does not create dioxin, has been used with much success in the bleaching of kenaf.

Various reports suggest that the energy requirements for producing pulp from kenaf are about 20 percent less than those for wood pulp, mostly due to the lower lignin content of kenaf. Many of the facilities that now process Southern pine for paper use can be converted to accommodate kenaf.

An area of 1-acre (4,000 m2) of kenaf produces 5 to 8 tons of raw plant bast and core fiber in a single growing season. In contrast, 1-acre (4,000 m2) of forest (in the USA) produces approximately 1.5 to 3.5 tons of usable fiber per year. It is estimated that growing kenaf on 5,000 acres (20 km²) can produce enough pulp to supply a paper plant having a capacity of 200 tons per day. Over 20 years, 1-acre (4,000 m2) of farmland can produce 10 to 20 times the amount of fiber that 1-acre (4,000 m2) of Southern pine.[3]

As one of the world's important natural fibres, kenaf is covered by the International Year of Natural Fibres 2009.

Common names

  • Europe:
    • English: kenaf (Persian origin), Deccan hemp, Java jute...
    • French: chanvre de Bombay, chanvre du Deccan, chanvre de Guinée, chanvre de Gambo, chanvre de roselle, jute de Java, jute de Siam, kénaf, ketmie à feuilles de chanvre (Belgium), roselle
    • German: Ambari, Dekkanhanf, Gambohanf, Hanfeibisch, Javajute, Kenaf, Rosellahanf, Roselle, Siamjute
    • Portuguese: cânhamo rosella, juta de Java, juta do Sião
    • Spanish: cáñamo de la India, cáñamo de gambo, cáñamo Rosella, pavona encendida, yute de Java, yute de Siam
  • Americas:
    • Brazilian Portuguese: Papoula de São Francisco, Cânhamo-brasileiro
  • Africa:
    • Afrikaans: stokroos
    • Egypt & Northern Africa: til, teel, or teal
    • West Africa: dah, gambo, and rama
  • Asia
    • Lao: ປໍແກ້ວ (pɔː kɛ̑ːw)
    • India (Bengal): mesta
    • India (Madras): palungi
    • Taiwan: ambari

According to Miyake and Suzuta (1937), there are more than 129 names for kenaf worldwide

Pesticide and fertilizer use in kenaf crops

Kenaf is considered a hardy plant that requires a minimum of fertilizers, pesticides and water in comparison to conventional row crops.


  1. ^ "kenaf." Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged. Merriam-Webster, 2002.
  2. ^
  3. ^ usda kenaf uses

References and external links


Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies

Hibiscus cannabinus


Classification System: APG II (down to family level)

Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiospermae
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: core eudicots
Cladus: Rosids
Cladus: Eurosids II
Ordo: Malvales
Familia: Malvaceae
Subfamilia: Malvoideae
Genus: Hibiscus
Sectio Hibiscus sect. Furcaria
Species: Hibiscus cannabinus


Hibiscus cannabinus L., Syst. nat. ed. 10, 2:1149. 1759.


  • Abelmoschus congener (Schum. & Thonn.) Walp., Rep. bot. syst. vol. 1, 308. 1842.
  • Abelmoschus verrucosus Walp., Rep. bot. syst. vol. 1, 308. 1842.
  • Hibiscus aculeatus Don, Gen. Syst. vol. 1, 480. 1831.
  • Hibiscus cavanillesii Kostel., Allg. Med.-Pharm. Flora vol. 5, 1857. 1836.
  • Hibiscus congener Schum. & Thonn., Beskr. Guin. Pl., 319. 1827.
  • Hibiscus radiatus Sieber ex Steud., Nom. ed. vol. 2, 1, 760. 1840., nom. illeg. non Cav. (1787).
  • Hibiscus tripartitus Forssk., Fl. aegypt.-arab., 126. 1775.
  • Hibiscus verrucosus Guill. & Perr., Fl. Seneg. tent. vol. 1, 87. 1831.
  • Hibiscus vitifolius Mill., Gard. Dict. ed. vol. 8, no. 8. 1768., nom. illeg. non L. (1753)
  • Ketmia glandulosa Moench, Suppl. Meth. (Moench) 202. 1794 or 1802?


  • Mansfeld's World Database of Agriculture and Horticultural Crops (1998-). IPK Gatersleben. 2009 Sept 02 [1].
  • USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN) [Data from 07-Oct-06]. [2]

Vernacular names

English: Kenaf
한국어: 양마
Türkçe: Kenaf
Wikimedia Commons For more multimedia, look at Hibiscus cannabinus on Wikimedia Commons.


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