The botanical name of abaca is Musa Textilis, a tree-like herb which is of the same genus as the common banana which it closely resembles. It is indigenous to the Philippines.

The abaca plant to the untrained eye, can easily be mistaken for the banana plant - without the fruit.

The abaca plant is smaller than the banana although some varieties under favorable conditions can even be taller or at least equal the height of the banana plant.

Abaca, however differs from the banana through the following characteristics:

Abaca is also popularly known worldwide as "Manila Hemp". However it is not related to the true hemp.The name "hemp" is from the old English word "hanf" which came into use in the Middle English bt 1000 AD and belongs to the plant cannabis sativa . However, the abaca is not the common hemp plant from cannabis sativa. "Hemp" has come to be used as a generic term for all long fibers. The word "hemp" is generic for plants that contain a fiber called "bast". The abaca is a hard fiber (referring to its stiffness) and is entirely different from the true hemp which is a soft fiber and is the product of cannabis sativa.