Author Topic: Olona Strings  (Read 2029 times)

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Offline pnwarcher

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Olona Strings
« on: March 01, 2018, 03:46:15 pm »
I was recently in Hawaii and picked up a book on local plants. I discovered Olona, an endemic nettle renowned for the strong, lightweight white cordage made from its fibers. Some say it may be the strongest natural fiber, but it's nearly forgotten today. One of the sources below claims its strength is triple that of manila, and 8 times that of hemp. It is also extremely pliable and decay-resistant, making it the perfect fiber for things like fishing lines and nets.

In Volume 48 of Science (see link), published in 1918, a Mr. William Weinrich, plantation manager of the Hawaiian Sisal Company said, "This fiber not only partakes of all the best features of this genus [i.e. nettles], but is superior to any of its members, producing the best of all fibers known at the present time."
Sounds like Olona was basically the Dyneema of the 19th century.

Have you guys ever heard of this stuff? Anyone ever tried it for a bowstring? How does it compare to linen or silk?

Here are some links with more information:
http://www.primitiveways.com/olona.html
http://bit.ly/2CQalGj
https://www.jstor.org/stable/1641963?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
« Last Edit: March 01, 2018, 04:17:00 pm by pnwarcher »

Offline Badger

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Re: Olona Strings
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2018, 04:03:59 pm »
  This is exciting if it is as good as it is said to be. I am going to try and get some seeds and see if it will grow in Ca.

Offline willie

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Re: Olona Strings
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2018, 04:18:46 pm »

Offline pnwarcher

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Re: Olona Strings
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2018, 04:35:49 pm »
Good find, Bob. 5.7 lb breaking strength for a 0.11mm diameter cord is not bad. :-) Near the end of that paper the author notes that in a mature plant, individual olona fibers can exceed 1.5 meters in length. Amazing! I didn't see any plants when I was out there, but maybe next time I go I'll see if I can find some. Wikipedia says it has a good germination rate and can sprout from cuttings. Seems likely it could grow in CA, given enough water.