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Yarns and fibers from Apocynum

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Apocynum fiber



Indian Hemp (Apocynum cannabinum) or also known as Dogbane. The common name, Dogbane, refers to the plant's toxic nature, which has been described as "poisonous to dogs." Apocynum means "Away dog!" and cannabinum means "like hemp," in reference to the strong cordage that was made by weaving together the stem's long fibers.


Plant Type: This is a herbaceous plant, it is a perennial which can reach 1- 4 meters of height. Stems red and branched emerge from a spreading root. 
Leaves: The leaf arrangement is opposite. Each leaf is entire and spreading or ascending. The lower leaves have stems while the upper leaves may not.
Flowers: The flowers have 5 Regular Parts and are up to 0.5 cm long. They are greenish white. Blooms first appear in late spring and continue into late summer.

Apocynum is a natural herbaceous old root, belonging to peach department, resistance to converse, drought, to salt and soda, resistance to wind and sand. Apocynum divides into red apocynum and white apocynum, it's leaf stick and root can be used to drugs. According to "compendium of moeteriu medica" and "Morterial Medica for Famines" said, apocynum has an effect on stopping palpitation, relieving a dizziness, reducing phlegm, relieving a cough, strengthening heart and helping passing water. From medical and health care, the entire body of apocynum is a treasure. It is also an excellent kind of raw material for the industry.



Apocynum fiber has a better character than linen or ramie. It shows a distinct silky shine, the stiffness of flax, the softness of cotton. It contains cardio tonic glycoside and many kinds of amino-acids which perform medical care effects which other raw materials of textiles so not have. Therefore apocynum is called "The king of natures wild fibers". Textiles made of apocynum not only wear comfortably, but also have health care effect.

Strong, long lasting ropes and fine fishing line could be made from it and nets from the fiber held up well in water. The American Indians produced many useful items from the fiber such as pouches and bags, quilts and clothing. Europeans observed native women making thread from the plant with no other equipment than their hands and thighs which they used to roll the fibers into threads. The fibers have been found in archeological sites thousands of years old.

Interesting properties of apocynum are:

  1. Far Infrared Ray
    Infrared ray Radiation --> Improving microcirculation.

    It was tested that Apocynum Venetum products are natural far infrared radiation materials which can radiate 8-15 micron far infrared light wave, affect 3-5 cm of subcutaneous tissue, and engender biological effects to the body, improve the microcirculation, activate hislocells, promote metabolism, strengthen immunity. It can also sunder the double or triple key of the disaturable fatty acid in the blood, and form saturation fatty acid, decrease the fat of blood vessels, smooth the blood useful wall, finally decrease disease arising possibilities of cardiovascular and ophthalmology, such as arteriosclerosis and cataract. Moreover, Japanese medical doctors discovered that 8-15 micron far infrared rate radiation could control the reproduction speed of cancer cells, the pathological changes and development.

  2. Bacteriostasis —>  Give You A Clean Skin 

    Apocynum Venetum products can obviously inhibit coli-bacillus, candied albicans, staphylococcus, etc. And it also can prevent chronic dermatitis, bedsores, eczema, etc. After washing 30 tines, the germfree rate is still 10-20 times the rate of ordinary fabric.

    Cut an apple in half. One is wrapped with Apocynum Venetum fabric, the other with standard white cotton cloth. Several hours later, the colors, of the two halves are quite different. The one in the standard cotton cloth turns into rotten and gives out peculiar smell, the other only changes a little: obviously, the Apocynum Venetum fiber has the functions of bacteriostasis and antiseptic, so it can protect human’s health.

  3. Principle of Pressure Depressing

    Apocynum Venetum contains varied medicine compositions such as Flavone components, Cardinal glycosides, Amino acids, etc. According to the records in Traditional Chinese Medical Science, the principle lies in that “Inner disease could be cured outside”. The effective medicine composition could pass through the skin pores and acu-points, play a part in channels, pneuma and blood, inner organs and part focus, part in blood circulation recover the elasticity of the thickened and tough blood vessel wall, thus depressing the blood pressure, promoting the function of organism.

  4. Warm in winter and cool in summer-the unique property
    It was tested and verified that the warm keeping of Apocynum Venetum products is 2 times as much as that of the pure cotton fabric 8°C below. The ventilation is 2.5 times as much as pure cotton fabric 21°C up. The moisture absorption is 5 times as much as pure cotton fabric at the same condition. Wearing Apocynum venetum in scorching summer. There is no sweat smell in 100 hours



Uses: Hemp dogbane is known for its use as cordage. Before cotton was introduced and cultivated, around 700 A.D., leaf and stem fibers, hair or wool from dogs or wild animals, bird feathers, animal skins, or human hair were used to create prehistoric cordage. Dogbane fibers have been found in some archeological sites thousands of years old.

apocynum cordageapocynum handicrafts

The native people from many nations in many nations produced various useful items from the hemp fibers. They made cordage and thread from the plant with no other equipment than their hands and thighs. Fibers of the dogbane plant were rolled together to make a functional material stronger than cotton. The twine was excellent for making fishing lines and nets because it keeps its strength under water and does not shrink. It was also used in the manufacture of many other items, including deer and rabbit nets, slings for hunting small game, nooses for snaring grouse and other game birds, hide stretchers, bowstrings, moccasins, clothing, straps, woven bedding for baby cradles, wheels used in a type of dart game, carrying nets, and cat-tail mats.

The stems were harvested late fall, after frosts have caused the sap to drop into the plant's perennial root base, and the leaves turn to yellow and fall from the stem. At this stage, the reddish-brown stalk becomes stiff and can easily be clipped from the root base flush to the ground. Dogbane stalks were also collected in winter, when the stalks are dry and brittle. Dry stalks are easiest to work, but if allowed to stand in the field through the winter and into spring, the fibers weaken. The harvested plants were bundled by the lower ends for carrying.

 apocynum dry stalks  harvesting apocynum (Indian hemp)

 dogbane stalks (apocynum)

The cordage fibers are found in a layer between the thin outer skin and the woody, hollow center of the stem. Carefully scraping with an obsidian flake, chert spall, or deer rib removed the outer bark from the fibers. The top spreading branches were trimmed off and the stems were flattened between the fingers into four pieces. They were then split open from bottom to top. The length of brittle, woody core was broken into 2 inch pieces and pulled off the fibers by hand until all of the Apocynum fibers in its historic useswoody material was removed. Then the process of rubbing and rolling the hemp between the hands helped clear away any other skin that still clinged to the fibers. Not everyone scraped the dogbane first. Paiute people and others simply split and broke the dry stalks without scraping, and removed all the outer bark by rubbing. Dogbane and other bast fibers can also be soaked (called "retting") to release the fibers. Retting was used when the bark adhered more tightly to the fibers.

The dogbane fibers were made into twine by twisting and rolling them with the hand on the bare thigh. The hands were kept damp to increase the friction. More stem fibers were joined together by splicing. The short end that needed splicing was overlapped with the new addition of fibers, then rolled together until they were intertwined. An average plant yields about 2 1/2 feet of fiber, but one fourth of this is lost in the splicing process. By splicing the stems together, a continuous length of twine could be produced. A strong rope could be made by plying several lengths of twine together. A good Indian hemp rope is said to have the equivalent strength of a modern hemp rope with a breaking point of several hundred pounds. The twine would keep for many years if stored in a dry place.


In todays textiles apocynum fibers are mostly mixed with long staple cotton fibers. End uses are decoration fabric, bed covers, curtaining etc.

15% Apocynum Venetum 85%Cotton.  Description: Infrared ray Radiation; Bacteriostasis; Warm in winter and cool in summer. SPECIFICATION (seven-piece) Quilt Cover


Component15% Apocynum Venetum 85%Cotton

Infrared ray Radiation; Bacteriostasis; Warm in winter and cool in summer. 
SPECIFICATION (seven-piece) Quilt Cover 230cm X 200cm; Sheet 240cm X 220cm 

 apocynum properties - Infrared ray Radiation; Bacteriostasis; Warm in winter and cool in summer


Component15% Apocynum Venetum 85%Cotton

Infrared ray Radiation; Bacteriostasis; Warm in winter and cool in summer. SPECIFICATION A: Quilt Cover 240cm X 220cm; Sheet 260cm X 240cm; Pillowcase 75cm X 50cm.SPECIFICATION B: Quilt  230cm X 203cm; Sheet 260cm X 240cm; Pillowcase 75cm X 50cm 

apocynum socks - bacteriostatic


componentapocynum  and cotton

Deodorize, distribute the sweat, bacteriostatic
Component: 25% apocynum, 45% cotton,  25% polyamide, 5% rubber

apocynum dogbane towels


component16% Apocynum Venetum, 84%Cotton

Standard33cm X 76cm

underwear made from dogbane - apocynum


component25% Apocynum, 75%Cotton


  • fibers
  • spun yarns


There are the following main product yarn qualities made from apocynum:
  1. Apocynum 30%/combed long-staple cotton 70%,
    siro-spun yarn 16s-40s
  2. Apocynum 30%/combed long-staple cotton 70%,
    ring-spun yarn 16s-80s
  3. Apocynum 25%/combed long-staple cotton 75%,
    siro-spun yarn 16s-40s
  4. Apocynum 25%/combed long-staple cotton 75%,
    ring spun yarn 16s-80s
  5. Apocynum 15%/combed long-staple cotton 85%,
    siro-spun yarn 16s-40s
  6. Apocynum 15%/combed long-staple cotton 85%, 
    ring spun yarn 16s-80s
  7. Apocynum/combed long staple cotton 
    O.E. yarn 6s-16s
  8. Apocynum/Tencel/ long staple cotton 
    siro-spun yarn 16s-40s
  9. Apocynum/Tencel/ long staple cotton 
    ring spun yarn 16s-80s
  10. Apocynum/ small denier viscose 
    siro-spun yarn 16s-40s
  11. Apocynum/colored cotton /Tencel 
    siro-spun yarn 16s-40s

Apocynum fibers need to be cottonized for spinning on ring spinning or OE equipment. This process is the crucial point to ensure a perfect running in the spinning workshop


Background information

Medical Uses: The dried and powered root used by Native Americans as a snuff to cause sneezing and thus relieve a head cold. Like Spreading Dogbane (A. Androsamifolium) the plant taken internally could produced anything from a mild diuretic and laxative effect to a purgative effect with profuse sweating depending on the dose and the potency of the plant. Even so some tribes used it as a tonic. The Chickasaw and Choctaw reportedly used to treat syphilis by chewing the fresh root and swallowing the juice. It contains cymarin and apocannoside, glycosides that have shown anti-tumor activity. Warning: Poisonous, possibly deadly, in sufficient doses!


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