• Written By Shalini Kaveripakam
  • Last Modified 26-01-2023

Plant Fibres: Cotton, Jute Properties & Uses


Plant parts such as leaves, stems (bast fibres), fruits, and seeds have yielded various valuable Plant fibres. Fibre is obtained from the source, which is then spun into yarn. After that, yarn is weaved or knitted into cloth. Natural and synthetic fibres are the two basic types of fibres. Natural fibres are derived from natural sources such as animals and plants, whereas synthetic fibres are not derived from natural sources.

Natural fibres are those that are derived from plants or animals. Cotton, jute, wool, and silk are some of the examples. Synthetic fibres are man-made fibres derived from chemical compounds. Nylon, rayon, polyester, and acrylic are some examples. In this article, we will learn about different types of plant fibres, their origin and their uses.

Types of Plant Fibres

Plant fibres are mainly divided into the following three types of fibre.

  1. Seed Fibre: We obtain these plant fibres from the seeds of plants. For example, kapok, cotton, and so on.
  2. Bast Fibres: Bast is the outer layer of a plant’s stem. The inner bark or a blast of plants are used to harvest these plant fibres. Example: hemp, jute, flax, etc.
  3. Hard Fibres: Plant fibres are gathered from the leaves of the plants. Example: Coir made from the hard shells of coconuts.

List of Plant Fibres

The list of Plant fibres are explained below:

1. Cotton Fibre

Plant fibres are the fibres that we obtain from plants. Plant fibres include cotton, jute, coir, silk cotton, hemp, and flax. The denim used to make jeans is also made from cotton.

Cotton is used to make different textile products such as T-shirts, towels, sarees, shirts, suits, jeans, socks, bedsheets, pillow covers, etc. Cotton fabrics are soft and durable. They are cool to wear. Cotton fabrics are also good absorbents of water; therefore, they dry slowly. They also crease easily.

Where is Cotton Mostly Grown in India?

In India, cotton is grown in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab.
The cultivation of cotton plants requires high temperatures, plenty of bright sunlight, long frost-free days and light rainfall. Black soil found in western India and southern India and alluvial soil found in northern India are suitable for growing cotton.

How Cotton is Obtained?

Cotton is obtained from cotton plants. The fruits of the cotton plant are called cotton bolls. The cotton bolls are roughly spherical in shape and quite fluffy. Once the cotton bolls get matured, they burst open, and the seeds with cotton fibres become visible.

The seeds with cotton fibres are picked (removed) from dried cotton bolls by hand. After picking, they are taken to a ginning plant where the fibres are separated from the seeds by combing. The process of separating cotton fibres from the seeds by combing is called ginning.

Ginning was previously done by hand. Nowadays, ginning machines called cotton gins are used for this purpose. The separated seeds can be used again to grow more cotton. But, if the seeds are badly damaged, they are disposed of.

The fibres thus obtained are cleaned by machines to remove the impurities like leaves, twigs, etc. Once the cotton fibres are cleaned, they are spun into yarn. The process of making yarn from the fibre is called spinning.

On a small scale, spinning is done by hand-operated devices like takli and charkha. On a commercial scale, spinning is done by huge machines in the factories.

The yarn is then woven to make fabric. The process of arranging two yarns together is called weaving. Weaving is done by special machines called looms, which may be either hand-operated or power-operated. The finished product, i.e., cloth, is then used to make useful products.

Characteristics of Cotton Fabric

Clothes made from cotton are soft, light and durable. They absorb moisture easily and allow our skin to breathe. These qualities make cotton clothes most suitable to wear in hot summers. A variety of clothes such as khadi and denim are made from cotton. Denim is used to make jeans.

Uses of Cotton

Cotton is used in a wide variety of fabrics.

  1. It is used for making cotton clothes, such as shirts, trousers, saris, turbans, lungies, dhotis, etc.
  2. It is used as an absorbent in hospitals.
  3. It is used in making bandages for dressing cuts and wounds.
  4. It is used for making towels and tents.
  5. It is used as a raw material in making rayon and in the paper industry.

2. Jute Fibre

Jute is one of the cheapest natural fibres. It is a long, soft, shiny plant fibre spun into coarse, strong threads. Jute is the second-most important fibre after cotton.

Properties of Jute

1. Biodegradable
2. Durable
3. Strong

History of Jute

For centuries, jute has been an integral part of Bengali culture, which started in both Bangladesh and West Bengal of India.

Requirements for the Jute Crop

1. Jute grows best in warm and humid climates.
2. It requires plenty of water.
3. It grows best in alluvial soil receiving silt from annual floods, as in the Sunder ban delta of India and Bangladesh.

Jute is cultivated in the rainy season. Sowing is done between February and May, depending on the species. In \(4 – 5\) months, the crop will be ready to harvest.

Production of Jute

The stem of the jute plant is used to make jute. Jute fibres are extracted from the stem. First, they are allowed to remain in the water for a few days. They are pulled by hands. This extraction of fibres from the jute plant is called retting. After they have been pulled out, they are dried to pale yellow fibres having a silky appearance. They can now be woven into jute fabric.

India is the largest producer of jute in the world. It is mainly grown in West Bengal, which accounts for over \(50\% \) of raw jute production. Apart from India, Bangladesh, China, and Thailand are leading producers of jute.

Uses of the Jute Plant

1. Jute is one of the most important fibres after cotton. It is used for making gunny bags or sacks.
2. High-quality jute is woven into curtains, carpets, chair coverings and packing for linoleum.
3. Shopping bags, table mats, jute baskets and jewellery, are also made up of jute.
4. Jute bags are also extensively used in packing cereals like wheat, jowar and maize.

Other Useful Plant Fibres

There are a variety of additional useful plant fibres.

Coir: Coir is a coconut fibre made from the husk or outer covering of the coconut. Coconuts are usually kept in water for a few months. To obtain the fibre, the husk is peeled from the nut and smashed with wooden mallets. The resulting fibre is spun, dyed, and ready for weaving. Coir is used to manufacture a variety of household items, including ropes, floor coverings, and mattress stuffing.

Silk cotton: Another plant fibre often used in pillows, sleeping bags, and life jackets is silk cotton. The silk cotton tree, often known as kapok, provides this fibre.
The kapok tree produces light and fluffy fibres in its fruits (like cotton). The fruit bursts open as it ripens, releasing the fibres.

Hemp Fibre: Hemp fibres are derived from the hemp plant’s stem. Ropes, carpets, nets, clothing, and paper are all made from hemp fibres.

Flax Fibre: Flax is also known by another name, linen. Flax fibres are used for making linen cloth. The linen is fresh and cool to wear. It is durable and very absorbent. It dries fast. For thousands of years, linen has been utilised. Traces of the use of linen have been dated as far as \(8000\,BC.\) Even mummies in Egyptian graves have been found wrapped in linen. India, Holland, China and Belgium are major flax-producing countries of the world. Flax fibres are also utilised in the manufacture of ropes and high-quality paper.


Plants are the natural sources of many raw materials used to produce textiles, ropes, twine, and similar products. The major fibre crops are cotton, flax, and hemp, although less important plants, such as ramie, jute, and sisal, are grown in small amounts.

Cotton is a soft fibre that comes from cotton plants and is harvested in the form of a boll. It is primarily grown in areas with black soil and warm temperatures. Only the stems of jute plants are used to make jute fibre. During the rainy season, it is primarily grown. In this article, we learnt about cotton fibres, jute fibre and other plant fibres.

FAQs on Plant Fibre

Q.1. What is plant fibre?
Ans: The fibres which we get from plants are called plant fibres. Fibres like cotton, flax and jute are obtained from plants, so they are called plant fibres.

Q.2. What are examples of plant fibres?
Ans: Cotton, jute, coir, silk cotton, hemp, and flax are examples of plant fibres. The denim used to make jeans is also made from cotton.

Q.3. What are the \(4\) mains natural fibres?
Ans: Fibres that are obtained from plants or animals are called natural fibres. Examples are cotton, jute, wool, and silk.

Q.4. What is plant fibre used for?
Ans: The plant fibres are used for clothing, textiles, carpets, gunny bags, etc.

Q.5. How do we get plant fibre?
Ans: Seed fibres – These plant fibres we get from the seeds of the plants – examples – cotton, kapok, etc.
Bast fibres – Bast is the outer covering of stem in plants. These plant fibres are collected from the inner bark or blast of plants.
Hard fibres – These plant fibres are collected from the leaves of the plants.

Q.6. Which is the strongest fibre?
Ans: Many natural fibres are noted for their tensile strength. Silk is the toughest natural fibre found in our nature. One natural fibre known to man is its woven fabrics from the silkworm’s or caterpillar’s cocoon.

Q.7. Which is man-made fibre?
Ans: Man-made fibres are mainly of two types viz., synthetic and cellulosic. Synthetic fibres are produced from crude oil, and cellulosic fibres are from wood pulp. The main varieties of synthetic staple fibres are polyester, acrylic and polypropylene. Cellulosic fibre is viscose fibre, modal, etc.

We hope this article on ‘Plant fibres’ has helped you. If you have any queries, drop a comment below and we will get back to you.

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