Rajmahal hemp

Plate 240 from volume 3 of William Roxburgh’s ‘Plants of the coast of Coromandel: selected from drawings and descriptions presented to the hon. court of directors of the East India Company’ published under the direction of botanist Sir Joseph Banks.

The book states, ‘This most elegant and very useful species, was first made known to us by Mr. William Roxburgh, who found it growing wild on the above mentioned hills in 1800, and by him introduced into the Botanic Garden at Calcutta, where the plants thrive luxuriantly, blossom in April, and ripen their seed about ten months thereafter.

The bark of the young luxuriant shoots yields a large portion of beautifully fine silky fibres, with which the mountaineers of Rajemahl make their bow-strings, on account of its great strength and durability.

The currently accepted name of this plant is Gongronemopsis tenacissima.
During the rains they cut the shoots into lengths at the insertion of the leaves, peel off the bark, and with their nails, or a bit of stick on a board, remove the pulpy part. A person accustomed to this work will, I am told, clean as far as six pounds of the fibres in a day.

These fibres [...] are by far the strongest (I mean in the vegetable kingdom) I have met with [...] A line made of common hemp, for a standard, broke with 158 pounds when dry, and with 190 when wet, the average of several trials. A similar line of this substance, broke with 248 when dry, and 343 when wet.’

Object Summary

Accession Loan No.
Collection Class
print on paper
Common Name
Rajmahal hemp
Simple Name
Inscription Transcription
Asclepias tenacilisima; F R Jackson
Production Town

Production Date
Production Person Initials
Production Person Surname
W. Bulmer and CoNicolMackenzieunknown Indian artist
Production Year Low

Production Year High

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Asclepias tenacissima