Dendrocalamus brandisii

Dendrocalamus brandisii (Munro) Kurz

Forest flora of British Burma 2: 560 (1877).
2n = 72 (hexaploid), 74

Origin and geographic distribution
The origin of D. brandisii is not known. Its native area extends from north-eastern India (Manipur), Burma (Myanmar), to northern Thailand, Indo-China, China (Yunnan Province) and the Andaman Islands (India). For map click: Map27.TIF. D. brandisii is also frequently planted in botanical and experimental gardens in the tropics and subtropics and sometimes has been introduced (e.g. in various regions in India). It is occasionally cultivated in small plantations.

The culms are used for building purposes, furniture, farm implements, baskets and other woven wares and handicrafts. In Thailand and southern China the young shoots are used as a vegetable.

Production and international trade
The production, use and trade of culms of D. brandisii are mainly local, but no statistics are available. In Thailand young shoots are also exported; on the local market their price was about 2 Baht/kg in 1987.

Per 100 g edible portion young shoots contain approximately: water 92 g, protein 1.1 g, fat 0.3 g, carbohydrates 1.8 g, fibre 0.8 g, ash 0.6 g.

Loosely tufted, sympodial bamboo. Culm erect with pendulous tip, up to 30 m tall, diameter 15-20 cm at base, wall 2.5-4 cm thick, ashy-grey or greenish-grey to dull green, dirty yellowish-grey tomentose when young; internodes 30-60 cm long, sometimes sulcate, with a shiny brown pubescent transverse band below and above the nodes; nodes slightly swollen, supranodal lines distinct, with aerial roots on lower half of culm. Branches usually arising from upper midculm part, lower half usually more or less branchless but with a tuft of slender branches near the base; primary branches dominant, secondary branches slender. Culm sheath 40-60 cm x 20-35 cm, longer than internodes, elongate, rounded at top, whitish-brown, thick, leathery, early deciduous, covered with black hairs when young; blade lanceolate to long acuminate, 15-46 cm x 8-13 cm, reflexed, deciduous, appressed hairy within; ligule continuous with the sheath top, 1-2 cm long, deeply lacerate; auricles not reaching the edge of the sheath, up to 2 cm long, slightly pleated, bearing bristles. Young shoots conical, sheaths covered with shiny black hairs, blades reflexed. Leaf blade oblong-lanceolate, 20-30 cm x 2.5-5 cm, upper surface pale green and glabrous, lower surface slightly whitish and sparsely pubescent; sheath striate, pubescent when young, with long deciduous cilia at mouth; ligule long, acuminate, fimbriate. Inflorescence a long leafless branch, with long spicate flagelliform branches, bearing bracteate heads of 1-1.5 cm diameter, containing many small pseudospikelets; spikelet ovoid, 5-8 mm x 5-8 mm, minutely pubescent, comprising 1-2 empty glumes and 2-4 florets. Caryopsis ovoid, 2-5 mm long, hairy above, tipped with the persistent style, pericarp crustaceous.

Growth and development
The young shoots of D. brandisii emerge above the soil during the rainy season and develop to their full height in 4-6 months. After that the lateral branches start to develop. A culm becomes mature in 3-4 years. A good healthy clump produces several shoots every year. D. brandisii flowers sporadically as well as gregariously. Its life cycle is not known; in India an interval of 45-50 years between two gregarious flowerings has been reported.

Other botanical information
Along with D. giganteus Munro, D. brandisii is one of the largest bamboos. Both species are somewhat similar but D. brandisii has much thicker, dirty tomentose culm walls, and much smaller spikelets.

D. brandisii grows in wet, evergreen tropical forest, up to 1300 m altitude. In Burma (Myanmar) it is frequently found on limestone, but it also grows well on well-drained loamy soil.

Although culms and young shoots are mostly collected from wild populations, D. brandisii can be propagated by seed, by rhizome and culm cuttings, and by tissue culture. Some seed is usually available after sporadic flowering and constitutes a good source for propagation. Rhizome cuttings (part of rhizome and part of culm, with roots and dormant buds) can always be taken and are planted just before or during the rainy season in holes enriched with a mixture of cow dung and soil. Culm cuttings have been successful in India; parts of one internode with a node at each side were laid horizontally just below the soil surface; the growth of the resulting shoots was slow, in 3 years a maximum height of 2 m was reached. In Thailand promising results have been obtained with tissue culture, working with seeds from which multiple shoots emerge. Young plants require watering if rainfall is insufficient. Weeding, mulching (e.g. with well-rotted rice straw) and earthing up of clumps are recommended. There are no reports of diseases or pests. Culms of 3 years or older are harvested, preferably in the dry season. The yield of young shoots is high; their quality is good when fresh, but they rapidly turn brown during transport.

Genetic resources and breeding
No germplasm collections or breeding programmes are known for D. brandisii.

D. brandisii is a promising species being one of the strongest and largest bamboos for construction purposes. Many aspects, however, still require investigation, e.g. ecological requirements, cultivation methods, management, propagation, physical, mechanical and chemical properties, preservative treatments. Germplasm collections are urgently needed.

M.K. Alam

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