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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Wednesday - May 07, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Poisonous Plants, Cacti and Succulents, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Natural fibers for lashing bamboo in weaving
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live in Austin and am looking for plants I can use for weaving fibers, e.g. lashing bamboo for a small project. What plants and parts do you recommend? What resources do you recommend for information on when and how to harvest, and how to prepare the fibers? Thank you!

ANSWER:

We are always touched by the confidence our friends on the other end of the computer line have in our range of abilities and knowledge. This question involves plants and may even involve native plants, but it is still not in our comfort zone. However, we will get out and take a look on the web and see if we can find someone who DOES know what he/she is talking about.

Article by Jim Hwang from the Taiwan Review, April 1, 2004 on Sun Yeh-chi's work with organic materials to make creations that echo the natural world.

"Native American Cordage Technology" by Tara Prindle from Suite 101 website.

Native Tech: Native American Technology and Art - Uses for Cattails, text and graphics also by Tara Prindle.

Plants for a Future website article on Fiber Plants.

Making Cordage from Natural Fibers. Adapted from Participating in Nature: Thomas J. Elpel's Field Guide to Primitive Living Skills.

From these articles, we tried to find some plants native to North America that you might access for your project. These four were all mentioned in various articles, but frankly, we wouldn't be too thrilled about tackling them for fibers.

Apocynum cannabinum (Indianhemp) - all parts of plant poisonous

Asclepias asperula (spider milkweed)

Yucca pallida (twistleaf yucca)

Agave havardiana (Havard's century plant)


Apocynum cannabinum

Asclepias asperula

Yucca pallida

Agave havardiana

 

 

 

 

 

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