Jute, the fibre of corchorus capsularis and other species; the name is also applied to the plant which furnishes the fibre. The genus corchorus belongs to the order tiliacece, of which the linden or basswood is a familiar representative; the species furnishing the fibre are annuals, natives of Asia, and grow about 10 or 12 ft. high. C. capsularis has straight stems about as large as the little finger, branching only near the summit; the lanceolate leaves are about 6 in. long, nearly 2 in. broad at the base, sharply serrate on the margin, with the lower serrature on each side prolonged into a thread-like point; the yellow flowers have five sepals and petals, numerous stamens, and a single pistil which becomes a globular, flattopped capsule. Another species, 0. olitorius, has a general resemblance to the preceding, but differs in its fruit, which is cylindrical, and about 2 in. long; its specific name has reference to the use of the young shoots as a pot herb, for which purpose the plant is cultivated in Egypt and Syria, and has thus become naturalized in most parts of the East as far as the Mediterranean. It is known as the Jews' mallow, and yields a portion of the jute fibre.
The fibre is contained in the bark of the stems, which are cut when the plant begins to blossom, as it is then of finer quality than when the plant is older; the stems are macerated in water until the fibre readily separates; the latter is from 8 to 12 ft. long, appearing like hemp, but much more soft and silky; it is capable of minute subdivisions, and when used with silk in the manufacture of cheap fabrics it readily escapes detection. Jute does not stand exposure to the weather, and hence is not suited for the manufacture of cordage; yet it is said to be sometimes mixed with hemp for this use, and can only be regarded as an adulteration. Coarse cloth, like burlaps, matting, and cheap carpeting, are made of the fibre; and when large chignons were in vogue, no inconsiderable quantity of jute was consumed in the manufacture of " switches." The great use for the fibre, however, is in the manufacture of the coarse bagging known as gunny; bags made of this are largely used in packing rice, coffee, and other eastern merchandise for shipment, and they are scarcely less in demand in this country for the transportation of our agricultural products. Cotton is largely baled in gunny cloth, and as it requires seven yards to the bale, the consumption for this product alone is very great.
In India the spinning of the fibre to form gunny twist is done by men, women, and children, the material being kept at hand, to occupy the spare moments of the household; and boatmen and others who are likely to have intervals of leisure engage in the occupation. Jute butts, which are the thick ends of the stems, about 9 in. long, are used for paper making, and are also worked into a coarse fabric; the refuse fibre as well as old gunny bags furnish stock for the manufacture of coarse paper. The value of jute and its various products imported into the United States in. 1873 was nearly $4,500,000. The experiments in jute culture that have been made in some of the southern states show that fibre of a fine quality can be produced there, and there can be little doubt that when proper relations are established between producer and manufacturer, this will become an important item in our agriculture. In California, where the demand for bags to transport the immense grain crops is large, the experiments in raising jute have been encouraging.
Jute (Corchorus capsularis).