Skip to main content



Ramie (pronounced Ray-me), one of the oldest textile fibers, comes in two forms. Boehmeria nivea is also known as white ramie or China grass. It has been cultivated in China for thousands of years under the name zhuma. Boehmeria nivea (var. tenacissima) is also known as green ramie or rhea.

Properties of Ramie

Advantages. Ramie fibers come from the stems of the plant. They are harvested just before or right after the flowers bloom by cutting near the roots. The stems are processed in a manner similar to that used for transforming flax fibers into linen fabrics. The ramie stems go through the following steps to produce fibers suitable for spinning: (1) decortication—breaking up the hard outer bark to create long ribbons of bark and fiber; (2) degumming—immersing the fiber in caustic soda and heating in a closed container; and (3) washing and drying.

Producers of Ramie

The leading producers of ramie include China, Taiwan, Korea, the Philippines, and Brazil. Ramie is also produced in India, Thailand, Malaya, Queensland (Australia), Mauritius, the Cameroons, West Indies, Mexico, the southern states of the United States, and in south Europe.

Uses of Ramie

Ramie fibers were used for burial shrouds in ancient Egypt and ancient China. They have been used for centuries in Korea for the hanbok, Korea's traditional costume.

Ramie has for the most part been used in the country in which it was produced. In the 1970s a loophole in the Multifiber Arrangement (MFA) allowed ramie fiber to be exported without import restrictions as long as at least 50 percent of the fabric was made of ramie. This encouraged the use of ramie in blends and contributed to its popularity in the 1970s and 1980s. The MFA was modified in 1986, thereby closing the loophole.

In the twenty-first century, ramie, either in blends or alone, is used for a wide range of clothing: dresses, suits, sportswear, and underwear. Other uses include gas mantles for lanterns, ropes, nets, fire hoses, table linens, filter cloth, upholstery, straw hats, and sewing thread.

Care of Ramie Textiles

Since ramie used for apparel is most often blended with other fibers, the care of the fabric can vary. Fabric made from 100 percent ramie may be machine washed, machine dried, and ironed at high temperatures. Dry cleaning (if safe for the dyes and finishes used) is best at preserving the color, shape, and wrinkle-free appearance of fabrics made of ramie fibers.

See alsoFibers; Korean Dress and Adornment; Shroud .


Collier, Billie J., and Phyllis G. Tortora. Understanding Textiles. 6th ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 2000.

Internet Resources

"Ramie." In The 1911 Edition Encyclopedia. Available from <>.

Korean Information Overseas Information Service. "Ramie Clothes." Available from <>.

Scruggs, Barbara, and Joyce Smith. "Ramie: Old Fiber —New Image." Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet (HYG —5501–90). Available from <>.

Tondl, Rose Marie. "Ramie." Nebraska Cooperative Extension (NF 91–45). Available from <>.

Wood, Ian. "16.2 Ramie: The Different Bast Fibre Crop." The Australian New Crops Newsletter, no. 11 (January 1999). Available from <>.

Eizabeth D. Lowe

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ramie." Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion. . 15 Oct. 2018 <>.

"Ramie." Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion. . (October 15, 2018).

"Ramie." Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion. . Retrieved October 15, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.