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Stalks of grasses, particularly cereal grasses such as wheat, oats, rye, barley, and buckwheat. Used collectively, the term means stalks aggregated into bales or piles after the drying and threshing of grain. Since ancient times, humans have used straw as litter and fodder for cattle, as a covering for floors, for coarse bedding, and even as clothing. It can also be woven into baskets, hats, floor mats, and furniture coverings. Thatched roofs consist of straw laid down approximately 1 ft (30 cm) thick and secured by strong cords, with the fibers running in the direction to be taken by rainwater. Chemically pulped straw is used in the manufacture of coarse paper and strawboard, a cardboard for cheap paper boxes.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on straw, visit Britannica.com.