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Raffia Palm Tree

About Raffia

The raffia fiber is obtained from the raffia (raphia) palm tree, which grows in tropical regions and in wet soil in Madagascar, Africa and the Philippines. The raffia palm (Raphia farinifera) is made of long leaves that can attain 60ft (18m), which makes it the palm tree with the largest branches.Each palm branch is made of nearly 100 leaflets, which are cut and torn off in parallel lines yielding long continuous fiber of a pale green color.

Collectors go deep into the island to harvest the raffia palm.They strip and dry the freshly cut pale green strand and sun dry them.The dried raffia fibers then turn beige in color to yield the natural colored raffia we all know.

The raffia strands are then brought into warehouses, where they are sorted and separated into different qualities of raffia, according to their color, texture, fiber length and width.

Each quality is then transferred to another section where they will be put up into raffia hanks, balls, braids or spools. Part of this natural raffia is also dyed to obtain colored natural raffia.

All these processes from the raffia harvesting, to the dying and packing are done manually by the local people with the utmost respect to the environment. Governmental laws also contribute to the preservation of the raffia palm trees by limiting the harvest of raffia palm from June to October each year to allow the branches of the raffia palm trees to regrow before the start of the next harvest season

What is raffia used for?

The raffia fiber is soft, pliable, strong, durable, easy to dye and biodegradable making it an excellent material for weaving baskets, hats, mats and rugs.

It is also widely used for agricultural purposes to tie vegetables, plants in vineyards, flowers and floral arrangements.

Crafters also fancy the raffia fiber for making doll hair, ribbons, Hawaiian skirts (hula skirts), table skirts and much more.

You might also have noticed that raffia is very popular in the packaging industry and can be used as filler. Raffia is often used as a decorative item for tying a little bow around oil, jam, vinegar, wine bottles, soaps, candles and boxes.

Finally raffia grass is used to substitute natural or artificial grass in the movie industry and widely used by hunters to make blinds for camouflage.


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