Bambusa heterostachya

Bambusa heterostachya (Munro) Holttum

Journ. Arn. Arb. 27: 341 (1946).
2n = unknown

Origin and geographic distribution
B. heterostachya is only found in cultivation, and its origin is unknown. It is planted near villages in southern Peninsular Malaysia (Melaka, Negeri Sembilan and Johor) and Singapore. It has been introduced in Sabah, and in Batam Island (Indonesia). For map click: Map333.TIF.

In Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore, strips of the culm are used to make baskets and as tying material (e.g. to attach coconuts). The strong, straight, medium-sized culms are used as poles to harvest fruits and to pollinate flowers of oil palm. In Kuala Lumpur a small form has been planted as a roadside ornamental.

Production and international trade
No data are available on production and trade. So far, B. heterostachya has only been of local importance in Malaysia, but its culms might attract international interest.

The moisture content of green culms (1-4 years old) ranges from 115-129%; the oven-dry density ranges 440-520 kg/m3.

A loosely tufted, sympodial bamboo. Culm erect, 6-12(-16) m tall, 3-4(-6) cm in diameter, green, irregularly streaked with pale green or whitish-green; wall 8-10 mm thick; internodes 30-80 cm long, when young white powdery and dark hairy below the nodes, glabrous with age; nodes not swollen. Branches arising from the midculm upwards, many at each node with the primary branch dominant. Culm sheath about 18 cm x 12 cm, dark green, covered with black hairs outside; blade broadly triangular, 7 cm x 5 cm, erect; ligule 6 mm long, entire, bearing bristles 3 mm or more long; auricles large, 1 cm long and 2.5 cm wide, bearing up to 1.5 cm long curly bristles along the edge. Leaf blade 20-40 cm x 2-5 cm, glabrous; sheath usually glabrous, occasionally with scattered appressed black hairs; ligule 1-2 mm long, irregularly toothed and with short bristles; auricles absent or small and round. Inflorescence iterauctant, borne on short leafless or leafy branches; pseudospikelets in groups of 2-3 at each inflorescence node; spikelet laterally compressed or flattened, 3-4 cm long, comprising 2 glumes and up to 10 florets. Caryopsis obovoid-cylindrical, 5-6 mm long, thickened and hairy at apex.
B. heterostachya flowers regularly. The culm characteristics are as good as those of useful Gigantochloa species, the culms are straight and strong and can be split into strips for making baskets.
The culm sheaths resemble those of B. vulgaris Schrader ex Wendland but are smaller and the ligule is different.

B. heterostachya seems well adapted to a humid tropical lowland climate without a strict dry season.

B. heterostachya is propagated by rhizome cuttings. When a rhizome part is taken from a flowering clump, the new clump will also produce flowers, but its culms are smaller in size. A mature clump contains 40-50 culms.

Genetic resources and breeding
No germplasm collections or breeding programmes of B. heterostachya are known to exist.

Being locally a useful bamboo, the prospects for promoting B. heterostachya are good. More research is needed on its ecological requirements, appropriate cultivation methods and possibilities for wider application.

S. Dransfield

For additional information about author(s) see Contributors or Editors.