Jute is a long, soft, shiny vegetable fibre that can be spun into coarse, strong threads. It is produced from plants in the genus Corchorus, which was once classified with the family Tiliaceae, more recently with Malvaceae, and has now been reclassified as belonging to the family Sparrmanniaceae. The primary source of the fibre is Corchorus olitorius, but it is considered inferior to Corchorus capsularis. “Jute” is the name of the plant or fiber that is used to make burlap, Hessian or gunny cloth.
Jute is one of the most affordable natural fibers and is second only to cotton in amount produced and variety of uses of vegetable fibers. Jute fibers are composed primarily of the plant materials cellulose and lignin. It falls into the bast fibre category (fiber collected from bast, the phloem of the plant, sometimes called the “skin”) along with kenaf, industrial hemp, flax (linen), ramie, etc. The industrial term for jute fiber is raw jute. The fibers are off-white to brown, and 1–4 metres (3–13 feet) long. Jute is also called “the golden fiber” for its color and high cash value.