A fibre used in making rope obtained from the leaves of the Agave sisalana. It is a hard fibre native to Central America, with cultivation of it later spreading to South America, Africa, Indonesia, the Philippines, and elsewhere. A hairy rope, it is, like hemp, a pale straw colour. In the days when it was used aboard ship it was frequently tarred to preserve it, though it resists deterioration in salt water well. It has a good ability to stretch, but is unreliable. Like all ropes made from natural fibres, it has now been replaced by synthetic ropes.
The Henequin plant, native to Mexico, produces a fibre sometimes known as Yucatán, or Cuban, sisal.
Subjects: Maritime History.