Gigantochloa hasskarliana

Gigantochloa hasskarliana (Kurz) Backer ex Heyne

Nutt. pl. Ned.-Ind., ed. 2, vol. 1: 299 (1927).
2n = 72 (hexaploid)

Origin and geographic distribution
G. hasskarliana is native to parts of western Indonesia (Sumatra, Java, Bali, Kalimantan), where it occurs wild and cultivated. Occasionally it is cultivated in botanical gardens and for hedges, e.g. in Malaysia, Singapore and Papua New Guinea. For map click: Map519.TIF.

In West Kalimantan G. hasskarliana is planted extensively to prevent soil erosion on steep hills. In East Kalimantan it is used to make basketry. In its native area it is often planted as a hedge.

Production and international trade
Production and trade are mainly local and no statistics are available.

Densely tufted, sympodial bamboo. Culm up to 10 m tall, 3-6 cm in diameter, wall 8-10 mm thick; internodes up to 51 cm long, green, when young covered with dark brown hairs in upper parts, glabrous later. Culm sheath triangular, 10-27 cm long, rather late deciduous, covered with appressed blackish-brown hairs; blade lanceolate with narrow base and acute apex, 2-14 cm x 5-15 mm, usually deflexed but sometimes erect at base of culm; ligule up to 3 mm long, irregularly toothed, ending in fine hairs; auricles firm, rim-like, up to 3 mm long, the ends usually somewhat raised, glabrous, edge of culm sheath extends beyond auricles. Young shoots very slender, grey-green with dark brown hairs appressed on the back of sheaths, sheath blades initially erect, becoming spreading to deflexed. Leaf blade lanceolate, 8-35 cm x 1-5 cm, glabrous on lower surface; leaf sheath with dark brown hairs along the margin; ligule to 2 mm long, toothed, each tooth ending in a fine hair; auricles small, rounded, up to 1 mm long and 1 mm in lateral extent, glabrous. Inflorescences borne on leafless branches of a leafy culm, consisting of clustered pseudospikelets (up to 20 in a cluster) at regular distances; spikelet slender, narrowly ovoid, 8-22 mm x 2-3 mm, slightly flattened near the base, consisting of 2 glumes, 3-4 fertile florets and 1 sterile apical floret. Caryopsis narrowly cylindrical, hairy at the apex.
G. hasskarliana is a very fast-growing bamboo species, developing readily from rhizome and culm cuttings.
The bamboo which is identified as G. hasskarliana in Thailand and is found growing abundantly in pure stands in the northern and western parts of the country, is not conspecific with G. hasskarliana. The culm sheath of the Thai bamboo has a large, broadly triangular, usually erect blade. Its correct name, unfortunately, is not yet confirmed. Therefore, more investigations should be carried out on this common bamboo.

G. hasskarliana usually occurs in the lowland but can be found up to 1500 m altitude (e.g. in Bali). It prefers humid conditions.

G. hasskarliana can be propagated by seed, and by rhizome and culm cuttings. Propagation by culm cuttings is mostly used for establishing hedges and for erosion control measures. It is easily attacked by a witches' broom (Epichloe bambusae), which does not cause visible damage, however.

Genetic resources and breeding
Germplasm collections of G. hasskarliana are available in Indonesia in the Bogor Botanical Gardens and in Lampung, Sumatra. More collections are urgently needed. There are no breeding programmes.

For the humid tropics, G. hasskarliana is an interesting species for erosion control and for large living hedges. More research is needed to investigate its physical, mechanical and chemical properties, its applicability, its ecological requirements and optimal cultivation methods.

E.A. Widjaja

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