Henequen from Sisal Fiber, Yucatan, Mexico

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Henequen (hn´ -kn) is an agave (å-g´ v) much like the century plant. It is a native of Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies. It is grown, however, chiefly in the province of Yucatan (y´ kä-tän´). Its leaves are sword-shaped, somewhat like those of the cactus. Within the leaves are long fibers. It is these fibers that make the henequen valuable. From them most of our binder twine and a great deal of our rope and cordage are made. Unlike most plants, it grows best in dry, stony ground where other plants do not thrive. Suckers are set out, and the soil is kept fairly free from weeds. A plant becomes full grown in about 5 years. Harvesting may take place at any time. The leaves of each plant are cut off when they have reached the proper state of growth. The spiney covering is removed from the leaves, and the threads are taken out and laid in bundles. These threads are then pressed into bales weighing about 400 pounds. It is in this shape that the fiber is sent abroad. In Yucatan the henequen plantations average about 500 acres each. This province has about 100,000 acres of henequen, and the cultivation is done by native Indians. The plant is one of the most valuable of the agricultural products of Mexico. Because of its value the natives call the plant "Green Gold". Yucatan produces more than 1,000,000,000 bales of henequen or sisal (s-säl´) hemp annually. In 1916 the entire crop of sisal fiber of the Yucatan province was valued at $40,000,000. Henequen was grown by the Aztecs many hundred years ago. They roofed their houses with the leaves and made cloth from the fibers and paper from the pulp. Keystone ID: 16100 Note: All titles, descriptions, and location coordinates are from the original Keystone Slide documentation as supplied by the Keystone View Company. No text has been edited or changed.
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