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June 2017

Cotton Morphology
Cotton Morphology

A. Cuticle:

Very thin outer layer containing wax amd pectic material

B. Pectin:

  1. A peculiar group of carbohydrates of very complex composition.They are usually present as C and Mg salts.In immature fibres there is relatively high amount pectins (6%).
  2. In mature fibres it is relatively high amount pectins (0.9-1%).
  3. Decrease in pectin content with parallel increase in cellulose content proves that pectin is the parent substance from which cellulosic is formed.
  4. Function is to protect the fibre from atmospheric oxidation.

C. Primary wall:

  1. Composed of cellulose, Pectic and fatty matter.
  2. Formed in the first phase of growth.
  3. Cellulose fibrils are disposed transversely or circularly to produce high peripheral strength and also makes it weaker in length wise direction of the fibre and account for the low strength of immature fibre.
  4. In all native-cellulose fibres, the molecules are highly oriented parallel to one another, but they spiral round the fibre, thus reducing the degree of orientation parallel to the fibre axis.
  5. In flax, ramie, hemp, and other bast fibres, the spiral angle is small – less than 6° - so that these fibres are highly oriented and give high strength and low extensibility.
  6. In cotton, however, the spiral angle lies between 20° and 30°, and the fibres can extend more easily by stretching the spiral.

D. Secondary wall:

  1. Formed during second phase of growth and makes up about 90% of the total weight.
  2. This wall is composed of successive layers of cellulose deposited on the inner side of the primary wall without increase in diameter.
  3. Strength of the fibre is determined by secondary wall.

E. Lumen:

  1. Central hollow canal whose dimensions varies over a wide range.
  2. Contains protein, mineral salts and pigments.

In pursuit of sustainability, there is a mushrooming need for production, and application of natural fibres. It would be a bit surprising, that a weed can confiscate huge amount of carbon, and also provide commercial options for its fibres. Hibiscus cannabinus, also known as kenaf have commercial applications in the making of twine, rope, paper and cloth. Tall and slender, resembling bamboo or jute, kenaf is in the hibiscus family, and is related to okra and cotton. This is a 4,000 year old crop, originating from Africa. It is much cultivated in countries such as India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, US, Malaysia, Thailand, some parts of Africa, and Vietnam.

Kenaf Fibres
Photo Credits:Wikimedia
Bast fibres are simple to process. Blended with cotton, kenaf fibres can be made into yarn and woven into fabrics. These textiles are aesthetically pleasing, lightweight, and have a soft feel. Apparels have the appearance of linen. They are the most sustainable fabrics, due to its growth rate, and ability to replenish. It does not require much water for its cultivation, almost no fertilizer or pesticides, and grows to its full length in approximately 150 days. Kenaf is completely bio-degradable as it does not require many chemicals for its cultivation or processing.

Kenaf has an ability to absorb huge quantities of CO2, the global warming gas, comparatively 3 times more than a tree. It can convert more CO2 than a tropical rain forest during its growth. Further it can also improve the soil structure, while fixing soil nutrients.

Ashish Hulle


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