How To Make Cordage from Mat Rush (Lomandra)

How To Make Cordage from Mat Rush (Lomandra)

This is a quick description of some cordage I made from Lomandra (Mat-rush). I am currently experimenting with how to do this well, and trying new techniques such as soaking the leaves first. In this example I didn't soak the leaves, but used them freshly picked.

Long-leaved Mat Rush (Lomandra longifolia)A mat-rush (Lomandra longifolia) plant growing in my garden, which can be used for cordage making. This is a very common plant in my area, it is native, and commonly found in the bush, and also widely used as a cultivated plant in both private and commercial gardens.

How To Make Cordage from Mat Rush - Long-leaved Mat Rush (Lomandra longifolia) Leaf Close-up of the mat-rush leaf.

How To Make Cordage from Mat Rush - Long-leaved Mat Rush (Lomandra longifolia) - Flower Spike The seed head, or flower stalk of the mat-rush. This is useful for identifying the plant. Note that the leaf bases and flowers of this plant are edible (bush tucker) plant food. This is a very useful plant!

Long-leaved Mat Rush (Lomandra longifolia) - Leaves Leaves, close up.

Leaf Close-up Vein structure in the leaf is visible.

Making Cordage - Tools I used the blunt "bread-and-butter" knife seen second from the left in this photo, to scrape the green sheath material away from the useful fibres in the lomandra leaves.

The difficult part in making this cordage is scraping the green sheath part of the leaves away from the useable fibres underneath, which is rather time consuming. If enough of the green is not scraped away, when it dries out the cord will be brittle, and will snap when bent through a sharp angle (such as when tying in a knot).

Long-leaved Mat Rush (Lomandra longifolia) - Scraped Leaf Mat-rush leaf being scraped, with fibres visible.

How To Make Cordage from Mat Rush - Long-leaved Mat Rush (Lomandra longifolia) - Twisted Leaf After sufficient scraping, the leaf was split in half and rolled up between thumb and fingers.

The next step was twisting into 2-ply cord. The direction of twisting is shown in the diagram below, taken from “The 10 Bushcraft Books” by Richard Graves. Each inner bundle is twisted in the same direction (in this example clockwise as viewed from the right hand side of the diagram looking toward the left side), and then the two bundles are twisted over each other in the opposite direction to that (in this case anticlockwise).

Making Cordage - The Basic Twist Another description of this twisting technique is shown here on another site (especially see figures 4a and 4b).

Long-leaved Mat Rush (Lomandra longifolia) - 2 Ply Cordage Close-up of twisted 2-ply cordage.

How To Make Cordage from Mat Rush -  Finished Cordage Finished cordage. Photo taken right after making the cord. The green colour will fade over time to a more yellow-brown colour. To make it look more tidy, you could use scissors to cut away the frayed bits that stick out.

Long-leaved Mat Rush (Lomandra longifolia) - CordageThis is a shorter piece I made previously, which has faded and has had the frayed edge bits trimmed off.

Recommended Reading

Primitive Technology: A Book of Earth Skills, by David Wescott. Awesome book. From a reader's review, “This is, in my humble opinion, the BEST single source for Primitive Skills out there - PERIOD. If you've ever looked through a scientific journal or periodical, that is the basic layout for this book: a compendium of articles, each one detailing a different tool, task, method, or application of a primitive skill. It isn't a high-cut book you need a PhD to understand. You can take this out in the backyard and follow right along, and succeed!” I would agree completely.

Purchase from Australia $28.62 AUD (free shipping)
Purchase Wilderness Awareness School (US) US$24.95

How to Make A Stone Axe in Primitive Technology: A Book of Earth Skills, by David Wescott

See Also

Overview of Cordage
Making Cordage for a Stone Axe
Survival and Wilderness Skills Books
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How To Make Cordage from Mat Rush (Lomandra)


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