raffia

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raffia (răf´ēə) or raphia (rā´fēə), fiber obtained from the raffia palm of Madagascar, exported for various uses, such as tying up plants that require support, binding together vegetables to be marketed, and weaving baskets, hats, and mats. It is also made into a native cloth that is exported as rabanna. The raffia palm (Raphia farinifera or R. ruffia) is crowned with enormous leaves that may be as much as 65 ft (19.8 m) long and composed of 80 to 100 leaflets. The fiber, which is soft, pliable, strong, and nonshrinking when wet, is torn in thin strips from these leaves. After being dried in the sun, raffia takes on a yellowish-tan hue, but it is often dyed other colors.

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raf·fi·a / ˈrafēə/ • n. a palm tree (Raphia ruffia) native to tropical Africa and Madagascar, with a short trunk and leaves that may be up to 60 feet (18 m) long. ∎  the fiber from these leaves, used for making items such as hats, baskets, and mats.

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raffia (bast, bass) A fibrous tissue from the upper sides of young leaflets of the palm Raphia vinifera that is used for tying plants and to make hats, mats, ect. See RAPHIA.

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raffia XIX. var. of raphia, var. rofia kind of palm (rofeer XVIII); of Malagasy orig.