Encyclopaedia Britannica
Ramie, (Boehmeria nivea), fibre-yielding plant of the Nettle family (Urticaceae) and its bast fibre, native to China. Green Ramie, or rhea (Boehmeria nivea, variety tenacissima) may have originated in Malaysia and is also a fibre source.

History and uses

The Ramie plant has been cultivated in Eastern Asia for fibre since prehistoric times. Ramie fabric was used in ancient Egypt and was known in Europe during the Middle Ages. Ramie fibre, also known as China grass, and Ramie fabric, variously known as grass linen, grass cloth, or China linen, have been exported from East Asia to the Western Hemisphere since early in the 18th century, but commercial production of Ramie products did not achieve importance in the West until the 1930s. Because of its desirable properties, including strength and durability, Ramie has frequently been promoted as a textile fibre of great potential.

Ramie is used to make such products as industrial sewing thread, packing materials, fishing nets, and filter cloths. It is also made into fabrics for household furnishings and clothing, frequently in blends with other textile fibres. Shorter fibres and waste are used in paper manufacture. Ramie leaves are edible and are a key ingredient in certain gelatinous rice cakes and rice dumplings in parts of East Asia.

China leads in the production of Ramie; other producers include Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Brazil.


What is Ramie Fabric?

Author: All Naturals, 16 November 2023

Ramie is a renewable plant fibre that is derived from a plant in the Nettle family. It is biodegradable, making it sustainable compared to synthetic, oil-based fabrics.

Ramie is a cellulosic fibre, similar to that of Linen. It's made from the stalks of the Chinese Nettle plant. It looks very similar to the European Nettle, however doesn't have the little hairs that sting.

Ramie is otherwise known as China Grass, Grass Linen, Rhea & Grass Cloth.

A warm humid climate is essential for cultivating Ramie, (optimum growing temperature of 25-35°C.)

True Ramie or China grass has heart shaped leaves, the underside is white with small dense hairs which do not sting unlike the European stinging nettle. These hairs give the leaves a silvery appearance. 

The fibres are slubby which gives Ramie an appearance similar to Linen. Ramie is reportedly "twice as strong" as Linen, one of the strongest natural fibres and even stronger when wet.

Ramie is an eco-friendly fabric, it is a highly sustainable alternative to synthetic fabrics with fantastic properties. It's naturally resistant to mould, mildew and bacteria, as well as light damage, rot and insects. It can be easily and healthily grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides or chemicals.

The process of transforming Ramie fibres into textiles is a similar process of that from flax to linen. The Ramie fibre is very fine, like silk, and naturally white in colour. Ramie is often blended with other natural fibres, like cotton or viscose, this can resemble anything from fine linen to a more coarse scrim.

Properties of Ramie:

  • Ramie is a cellulose fibre.
  • One of the strongest natural fibres and it's even stronger when wet - eight times stronger than cotton!
  • Fibres are uneven, giving it a similar appearance to linen.
  • Known for its ability to hold its shape and reduce wrinkling!
  • Low in elasticity and elongation potential meaning it does not easily shrink!
  • Naturally resistant to bacteria, pests, mildew and attacking insects.
  • Extremely absorbent making it comfortable to wear.
  • Easy to dye.
  • Naturally resistant to stains
  • Increased strength when wet
  • It can withstand high washing temperatures
  • Keeps its shape and doesn't shrink
  • It can be bleached
  • Sustainable fibre - shorter fibres and wasted fibres are used to manufacture paper!
  • Eight times stronger tensile strength than cotton and even silk.

Ramie is known to be one of the oldest textile fibers ever known.

There is historical evidence and data that ramie was used in ancient Egypt, in the period of 5000-3000 BC for making mummy cloths.
For centuries, Ramie has also been grown in China under the name zhuma where the farmers are known to have used the fiber to weave clothing.

How is Ramie fibre made?
Ramie belongs to the family of nettle plants. It is a hardy perennial plant. From underground rhizomes, it produces a larger number of unbranched stems. The plant can grow to a height of 1-2.5m. 
Read more here

What are the properties of Ramie fibre?
  One of the most important qualities of Ramie fibres is that Ramie fibres are resistant to bacteria, mildew, rotting, light, and insect attacks.
This property will make it your favourite clothing material, as clothing made from Ramie is long lasting and very resistant to possible damages from storing, wearing, exposing to sunlight, etc. 
Easy to wear and care for, low maintenance expenses, and its beautiful appearance will definitely make you fall in love with it.
Read more here.


Ramie is one of the strongest natural fibers. It exhibits even greater strength when wet. Ramie fiber is known especially for its ability to hold shape, reduce wrinkling, and introduce a silky lustre to the fabric appearance.


China leads in the production of ramie and exports mainly to Japan and Europe. Other producers include Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Brazil. Only a small percentage of the Ramie produced is available on the international market. Japan, Germany, France and the UK are the main importers, the remaining supply is used domestically.

Ramie Fibre:   Exploring The Eco-Friendly Garment for A Greener Tomorrow

Characteristics of Ramie Fibers

Moreover, this longevity speaks to the meticulous craftsmanship behind each piece. It addresses the throwaway culture that plagues the fashion industry today. When it comes to Ramie vs. cotton, a material that is often celebrated for its softness but prone to wear and tear, ramie emerges as a superior contender in lasting wear, embodying a tangible commitment to both style and sustainability.

Renowned for its exceptional Ramie fabric characteristics, this natural wonder is a testament to textiles’ sustainable elegance. The remarkable Ramie clothing durability sets it apart as a favored choice for fashion that withstands the test of time. Threads of Ramie fiber are resilient, ensuring that garments woven from this material retain their pristine condition even after countless wears and washes.

Non-Irritating Characteristics

In addition to its wearable characteristics, one of the Ramie clothing advantages lies in their hypoallergenic properties. For those with sensitive skin or allergies, Ramie fashion offers a gentle and non-irritating option. Its natural resistance to mold and mildew contributes to healthier clothing choices, making ramie garments particularly suitable for individuals prone to skin sensitivities.

Besides its tremendous advantages, a few essential Ramie fabric care tips can be followed to maximize the benefits of Ramie clothing and maintain its longevity. To preserve its softness and sheen, washing ramie garments in cold water is recommended, ideally by hand or in a gentle cycle. Also, air drying is preferable to machine drying, as excessive heat can lead to shrinkage and diminished fiber quality.