Raffia in Bonsai

Raffia is a natural plant material. Raffia strips have the property of being flexible when wet and becoming rigid when dry.  They are used instead of wires to shape bonsai trunks and branches. 

The strands of Raffia are soaked in water for about 30 minutes.  They are then wound around the trunks and the branches in the desired shape. 

When the strands dry, they become rigid and support the branches.  Raffia does not cause the scars on the branches unlike wires. 

Traditionally, used for making baskets and hats, these strands have come to used extensively in Bonsai. The strands are made from the leaves of a palm tree which is native to the island of Madagascar.