Photograph of a close-up of several specimens of Ramie plant (used for making fiber) in various stages of spinning, ca.1925. Numbers label the specimens starting with the number five for the first specimen (at left) and counts down to one for the last specimen (at right). The specimens are arranged in order from lightest to darkest and finest to coarsest. On a neutral background.; "Ramie ([pronounced] RAM ee) is a perennial plant grown chiefly for its fiber. It is native to Asia and is grown chiefly in India, China, and Taiwan. Ramie is one of the oldest known sources of fiber. There are over 30 known varieties of ramie. The most common kinds come from China and Japan. The thick, broad leaves of the ramie plant are dark green on top, and white and woolly underneath. Growers plant pieces of the roots, which grow into plants in about three months. The stalks grow from 3 to 7 feet (0.9 to 2 meters) high. In Asia, workers strip the tough ramie fiber from the stalks by hand. The fiber at this stage is often called China grass. Then it is washed and dried several times to remove the gums, pectins, and waxes. In the United States, ramie is grown mainly in Florida. Machines harvest it and strip it of its bark and core. Chemicals remove gummy material and impurities from the fiber. Ramie's strength increases greatly when it is wet, so it is suitable for life rafts, ropes, canvas, and nets. Other uses include surgical dressings, towels, air-conditioning filters, and fabrics. However, synthetic fibers have largely replaced ramie fibers in these products, especially in industrialized nations. Farmers in Central America have used ramie as a high-protein fodder for pigs." -- unknown author.