Hemp is an annual plant, Cannabis sativa, of which the long fibers of the stalk, as in the case of flax, are used. When the hemp has been harvested it is necessary to separate the fibers from the rest of the plant. This process is known as retting and there are two different methods. In the first one the hemp straw is spread thinly over the field where it grew until the dew or the rain have rotted the tissues surroundings the fibers. In the other process, which is uch quicker, the straw is dried and soaked in water.
Hemp is probably as old as flax. It originated in Asia, was used in Babylon and Egypt, and in ancient Rome clothes, sails, and rope were made from it.