Thursday, November 19, 2009

Kenaf Hibiscus

One plant that really did well for me this year was this new to me plant, Kenaf Hibiscus.

The seeds I bought were few, so I was really excited when these two plants grew and flourished. No extra water or fertlizer. They fell over, but kept right on growing. One plant has more "pot" looking leaves, the other plant has more heart shaped. I'll be keeping seeds from both. Because growing a plant that looks like a pot plant (especially in my county) is a major concern of mine, I'll be planting the heart shaped leaves next season, if my seeds ripen. Below are the two plants, one in front of the other. Well over 20ft tall, with beautiful huge light yellow flowers.
My online research shows this plant is used for its oil (seeds), fiber (stalks), and food. Much research is being done to see if it warrants replacing the tree paper industry. VERY easy to grow.

Below information taken from:



Extra! Extra!
Read all about it! Kenaf revolution underway. Buyers exercise power of purchasing. Public approval ratings up. Fiber of the future available today!

cannot run wild across the country like a weed, because in almost all parts of the U.S., kenaf seeds cannot mature.

Kenaf is a 4,000 year old NEW crop with roots in ancient Africa.
A member of the hibiscus family (Hibiscus cannabinus L), it is related to cotton and okra, and grows well in many parts of the U.S. It offers a way to make paper without cutting trees. Kenaf grows quickly, rising to heights of 12-14 feet in as little as 4 to 5 months. U.S. Department of Agriculture studies show that kenaf yields of 6 to 10 tons of dry fiber per acre per year are generally 3 to 5 times greater than the yield for Southern pine trees, which can take from 7 to 40 years to reach harvestable size.

While the flowering can last 3 to 4 weeks, or more, per plant, each individual flower blooms for only one day. The stalk of the kenaf plant consists of two distinct fiber types.
The outer fiber is called "bast" and comprises roughly 40% of the stalk's dry weight. The refined bast fibers measure 2.6mm and are similar to the best softwood fibers used to make paper.
The whiter, inner fiber is called "core", and comprises 60% of the stalk's dry weight. These refined fibers measure .6mm and are comparable to hardwood tree fibers, which are used in a widening range of paper products.

Upon harvest, the whole kenaf plant is processed in a mechanical fiber separator, similar to a cotton gin. The separation of the two fibers allows for independent processing and provides raw materials for a growing number of products including paper, particle board, animal bedding and bioremediation aids.

At the end of the growing season, the kenaf plant flowers. After blooming the flower drops off, leaving a seed pod behind. In almost all parts of the U.S. the seeds can never mature. Because of their African origin they require an additional 60-90 days of frost free conditions to reach the point of germination. This means kenaf cannot run wild across the country like a weed. It also presents some interesting challenges for developers to insure a consistent supply of seed for next year's crop. Much research work is being done in the area of seed development, with leading edge companies like Vision Paper developing innovative and environmentally sound solutions.

Illustrations by
Heidi Smith
All art © 1998
Vision Paper

Have a great weekend!!!!
Go to My Romantic Home for more Show and Tell today:)


Grammy said...

How cool is that!. It is beautiful and useful. Yea!

Rhonda said...

Wow! Sounds fool proof, just what I need!

Very pretty too! :)

Gail said...


ladyviral said...

Wow, I didn't know hibiscus comes in so many types too.. I only thought one type which my country's national flower haha~ thanks for sharing ^_^.

Barbara said...

Carla, I have never heard of this plant, but your info was very interesting. Do you recommend planting some?

Happy Thanksgiving.


Jean said...

Beautiful plant! I love the first picture. Jean

TJ said...

That is beautiful!