Hibiscus cannabinus

Hibiscus cannabinus

The Kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus L.) is a tall herbaceous plant of the Malvaceae family; other names with which this plant is known are Bimli, Ambary, Hemp Ambari, Hemp Deccan, and Juta Bimlipatum.

Systematics –
The Kenaf, from the systematic point of view, belongs to the Eukaryota Domain, Kingdom Plantae, Subarranean Tracheobionta, Superdivision Spermatophyta, Magnoliophyta Division, Magnoliopsida Class, Subclass Dilleniidae, Malvales Order, Malvaceae Family, Subfamily Malvoideae, Hibisceae Tribe and therefore to the Hibiscus Genus and H. cannabinus species.

Etymology –
The term Hibiscus comes from the Greek ιβίσκος ibískos; while the epithet cannabinus comes from Cannabis, for the leaves similar to those of hemp.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
According to some, Hibiscus cannabinus is native to southern Asia, while according to Murdoc, it was domesticated in 3500 BC. in the Nuclear Mande, an agricultural region of West Africa where agriculture developed independently of the Egyptian one. For its origin, however, more reference is made to the African areas where wild forms are found: the upper valleys of Niger and Bani; the Angolan territory, which has the most primitive species and the Tanzanian territory.

Description –
The Hibiscus cannabinus is an annual or biennial herbaceous species that can reach 4 meters in height, with 1-2 cm diameter stems, thick but not always ramified. The leaves are 10-15 cm long and variable in shape, from basal lobed to weakly lobed or lanceolate, the upper ones. The flowers have a diameter of 8-15 cm, white, yellow or purple. The fruit (capsule) has a diameter of 2 cm with numerous seeds.

Cultivation –
The cultivation of kenaf starts from sowing between the last week of April and the first of May in a fairly wet sowing bed and depending on the climatic conditions of the place (temperature, sun, rain, wind, etc.), with a density of 40-60 plants per square meter and in regular rows of about 45 cm. The complete vegetative cycle of the kenaf plant is 150 days but for the perfect achievement of the commercial ripening one has to wait for the environmental temperature to fall below 10 degrees for 2 weeks and at least 2 consecutive frost phenomena occur, after which the plant is ready to be harvested.

Uses and Traditions –
The fibers in kenaf are taken both in the bark and in the wood. The bark constitutes 40% of the plant. “The raw fiber” separated from the cortex is multi-cellular, consisting of several individual cells attached together. The individual cells are about 2-6 mm long and thin. The cell wall is thick (6.3 μm). Wood forms about 60% of the plant and has short (0.5 mm) thick cells (≈38 μm) and thin walls (3 μm). The pulp of paper is produced from the whole stem and therefore contains the two types of fibers. With this fiber are mainly produced: rope, twine, rough fabric (similar to jute) and paper. But Kenaf, with a view to product sustainability, is now also used for engineered wood, insulation, clothing fabrics, soil mixtures, animal bedding, packaging materials and materials that absorb oil and liquids. It is also useful as a cut fiber to be mixed with resins for plastic composites, as a prevention of the loss of fluids in oil wells. In addition, some multinationals such as Panasonic, Ford and BMW are taking care of its production or use.

Preparation Mode –
On alternative uses of Kenaf for other purposes (food or pharmacological) there is still no news and real and concrete data.

Guido Bissanti

Sources
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Pharmacy of the Lord, Advice and experience with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Publisher
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (edited by), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.

Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only and do not in any way represent a medical prescription; there is therefore no liability for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.

 

 




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