Schizostachyum latifolium

Schizostachyum latifolium Gamble

Ann. Roy. Bot. Gard. Calcutta 7: 117 (1896).
2n = unknown

Origin and geographic distribution
S. latifolium is native and widespread in Borneo, Peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra. For map click: Map333.TIF. It is also occasionally planted in villages.

The culms of S. latifolium are used in Sabah to make fine woven baskets (seraung) and in Sarawak to make blowpipes, tobacco containers (part of internode, carved in low relief), baskets and other ornamental woven objects such as mats.

Production and international trade
The production and trade of S. latifolium products are mainly local and no statistics are available. Cultivation is only small-scale.

In general, culms of Schizostachyum spp. are easily split but not easily split further into strips. Culms of S. latifolium however, can be split into fine strips which are suitable to be woven into very fine baskets.

Open tufted, sympodial bamboo. Culm erect with long arching tips, 3-6 m tall, 1-2.5 cm in diameter (reduced to 5 mm at the tip), wall 3-4 mm thick, light green, white hairy when young, becoming glabrous and smooth; internodes 35-80 cm long, whitish below the nodes; nodes not swollen. Branches many at each node, all subequal in size. Culm sheath 10-16 cm x 4-5 cm, light green turning yellow-brown when dry, long persistent, covered with appressed light brown hairs; blade 8-15 cm long, 14-17 mm wide near the base but only 5-10 mm wide at the junction with the sheath, tapering to the tip with rolled edges, erect first, later deflexed, glabrous but hairy adaxially near the base; ligule very short, entire; auricles prominent, 5-15 mm x 3-6 mm, extending laterally as narrow free lobes 5 mm beyond the base of attachment, with bristles 5-10 mm long along the edge. Young shoots light green. Leaf blade 12-30 cm x 2.5-5.5 cm, base usually rounded, glabrous, pale to light green; sheath glabrous; ligule very short, entire, bearing long bristles; auricles prominent, 4-5 mm long with bristles up to 12 mm long. Inflorescence terminating leafy branches, 20-30 cm long, bearing groups of pseudospikelets at the nodes; spikelet slender, 2-3 cm long, containing one perfect floret and a rachilla extension bearing a rudimentary floret. Caryopsis not known.

Growth and development
In mature clumps, young shoots and inflorescences are produced all the year round. Mature fruits are rarely found.

Other botanical information
S. latifolium is often confused with S. blumei Nees because both species possess large leaves and long pseudospikelets. In the field they can usually be distinguished by the colour of the culms and the leaves: light green in S. latifolium, dull or dark green in S. blumei.

S. latifolium grows scattered in tropical lowland up to 1000 m altitude. It is found in various habitats: in forest along rivers, forest edges, secondary forest and wasteland by roadsides.

Although S. latifolium is often cultivated in its native area, nothing is known about its agronomic aspects. There are no reports of diseases and pests.

Genetic resources and breeding
A small germplasm collection of S. latifolium is present in Sabah (Malaysia) at the Agricultural Station in Ulu Dusun. More accessions are needed. There are no breeding programmes.

The prospects for S. latifolium are promising because of its suitability to be split into fine strips which can be woven into very fine wares in cottage industries. To improve possibilities for local industries, aspects such as ecological requirements, propagation and cultivation methods should be investigated in more detail. Cultivation on larger scale is recommended because, although widespread, S. latifolium does not occur abundantly.

S. Dransfield

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