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Arenga fibre, or Gumati fibre as it is more commonly known, is harvested from a species of palm tree that grows only in Indonesia (formerly Java)

It is greenish brown in colour, and must be recognised as one of the hardest wearing natural fibres available.


Arenga Fibre is harvested from the Arenga Pinnata, also known as the Sugar Palm.

The origin of this tree lies in an area covering South East Asia up to Irian Jaya in the East of Indonesia. It is found growing wild in primary and secondary forest. It probably came originally from the island Kalimantan, also known as Borneo.

According to a report from China, the sugar and fibre industries were established in Malaysia in 1416, and in early years Singapore drew supplies from there.

In the year 1786 a British settlement was established in Penang, and an industry was formed based on seeds brought with cloves and nutmegs from Indonesia.
The Tree

The Arenga palm grows best in warm, tropical conditions, with good sunlight and water supplies all year round on fertile soils. It can grow in all altitudes from sea level up to 1400 metres.

The trunk has a growth cycle of 5 to 10 years dependent mainly on temperature, but also on sunlight. The rate of leaf production greatly depends on growing conditions, but it is normally 3 - 6 leaves per year. The maximum is about 50 leaves over the tree's life. The final two leaves emerge simultaneously, indicating the onset of flowering.

The age at which the tree flowers varies from 5 years up to 12 - 15 years depending on altitude. Flowers begin to emerge downwards, usually 3 - 7 female flowers followed by up to 15 male flowers. In it's natural state, the tree dies approximately two years after flowering, however, and skilful tapping can extend the life of the tree by more than ten years.

Arenga Fibre

The Arenga tree, which can reach up to 40 feet (12.3 metres), has a thick, black hairy fibrous trunk, with a dense crown of leaves, which are white on the underside. The tree begins to produce fibre after about 5 years, before flowering.

An average tree will produce from 30 - 50 leaflets of fibre depending on the size of the tree. The fibre is harvested by hand after climbing the tree using a bamboo ladder. Each tree yields about 15 kilos of fibre of which 3 kilos is the very best and stiffest.

Arenga or Gumati Fibre is brown/black in colour, with a diameter of up to .50mm (.020"). The fibre is stiff and extremely durable. It is highly resistant to seawater, and has been used for cordage on ships.

Brushes and brooms all over the world can be found filled with Arenga Fibre for cleaning floors, streets and household applications, and has also been used in paintbrushes.

Other uses of the fire include rope making, which is resistant to sunlight and saltwater, manufacture of sieves, in the construction of roofs and even to reinforce concrete.

Fibres are sorted into 5 grades from A to E, with grade "E" being the best, that is, the longest and thickest fibres.

Heat resistance

Arenga fibre is difficult to beat for it's hard wearing qualities and durability. It is ideally suited to applications where synthetics fail due to heat from friction. Arenga has a heat resistance of up to 150° C. Flashpoint is around 200° C.

Its inherent properties make it the only choice for certain industrial applications.

For example, it is unrivalled for the manufacture of circular rotary floor treatment scrubbing and buffing brushes, easily outperforming its synthetic rivals in both cleaning action and wearing properties.

It is also excellent for the manufacture of high quality sweeping brooms.

For cost sensitive products, we can produce an excellent Arenga mixture. We developed this formula some years ago when the price of pure Arenga fibre began to escalate. In appearance, it is virtually indistinguishable from the real thing, but has the advantage of being much lighter in density, yielding more units per kilo of fibre. It is also cheaper than the pure fibre.

We still hold good stocks of this fibre in both cut and uncut lengths and can be fully dressed and lubricated for use in high speed filling machines.