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Archive for category Anatomy

Rattan Cane and Bamboo for Handicrafts

Rattan Cane and Bamboo are often confused with one another, despite them belonging to entirely different families.

Rattan Cane is a creeper-palm. The word "Rattan" ( Malay rotan) is a family of about 600 climbing palms belonging to subfamily Calamoideae (Greek 'kálamos' = reed).

Synonyms for Rattan- manila, or malacca (named after the ports- Manila and Malacca), Manau (Malay rotan manau, which is the trade name for Calamus manan canes). The climbing habit is associated with the characteristics of its flexible woody stem, derived typically from a secondary growth, makes rattan a liana rather than a true wood.

The largest rattan genus is Calamus, distributed in Asia and Africa.

Daemonorops, Ceratolobus, Korthalsia, Plectocomia, Plectocomiopsis, Myrialepis, Calospatha, Pogonotium and Retispatha, are found in Southeast Asia.  Laccosperma (syn. Ancistrophyllum), Eremospatha and Oncocalamus are found in Africa.

The bamboos are grasses- evergreen perennial flowering plants of subfamily Bambusoideae, family Poaceae. Bamboos have hollow inter-nodal regions, though some are almost solid, e.g., Dendrocalamus Strictus and Membranaceous.  The vascular bundles in Bamboos are scattered throughout the stem instead of in a cylindrical arrangement. The dicot woody xylem is also absent. The absence of secondary growth wood makes bamboos columnar rather than tapering.

Bamboos include some of the fastest-growing plants in the world. Giant bamboos are the largest members of the grass family. Bamboos are of notable economic and cultural significance in South Asia, Southeast Asia and East Asia, being used for building materials, as a food source, and as a versatile raw product. Bamboo has a higher specific compressive strength than wood, brick, or concrete and a specific tensile strength that rivals steel.

Bamboo and Cane agro-forestry systems, thus offer a sustainable option to save our forest cover, which is the backbone of human existence on earth.

Bamboo and Cane are an excellent raw material for handicraft industry. 20160527_194924_resized71KXC7vxZ4L._SL1500_12_Seater_setty2-Asian-Moderne51tPjGFv8zL._SL1500_81K0QD9NwRL._SL1500_640c4c0063bc04bd7c1dd76f2dd4bc80800px-Baseball_bat-Louisville_slugger_construction

The word bamboo comes from the Kannada term bambu, which was introduced to English through Indonesian and Malay.

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Bambusa Nutans Bamboo

My interest in Bambusa Nutans and Dendrocalamus Strictus has been as a result of my quest for solid (not hollow) bamboos. I am very fascinated by this species of grass-which grows faster than any other hardwood species and has a better wood-fiber  quality, in some parameters, matching steel. But alas! Most bamboos are hollow, thereby limiting its spectrum of applications.

Having travelled and communicated with many institutions, organizations, scientists, growers and traders across India, I was, till recently, given to believe that the only genotype devoid of an inter-nodal cavity (solid, not hollow) is D. Strictus. Unfortunately, this species has many limitations- its stunted growth, small diameter and low yield, to cite a few. From a farmer's perspective, yield and per acre economics is an important consideration. During the course of this exchange of information, I learnt about  B. Nutans, another thick walled species (with an inter-nodal cavity), with much higher bio-mass production (wood), growing to about 15 m- about twice as high as D. Strictus.

I was still in a dilemma. A bamboo without an inter-nodal cavity, was still a mirage.

Imagine my surprise, when I accidentally discovered a few culms of B. Nutans, WITHOUT ANY INTERNODAL CAVITY - in a neglected corner of my farm, right under my bonnet !!!!! Wow !!! B. Nutans that is that are fully solid- with an excellent growth rate and straight bamboo culms. When I spoke to my father, he casually mentioned that he came across this rare bamboo, many years ago, on one of his travels. He further mentioned that he brought back a few root cuttings and planted them on the periphery, and subsequently forgot about !!!

I am now in the process of developing a nursery for this particular stain of B. Nutans. I plan to establish a small bamboo plantation. A legacy my father started.

Bambusa Nutans, bamboo species is cultivated/naturalized in the Northern, Central and Eastern parts of India, occurring naturally in tropical India and Indo-China in the sub-Himalayan tracts, between 600 to 1500m altitude. It requires well drained sandy loams with tropical / sub tropical climate.

b_nutansbambusa nutans2

Local/Indigenous Indian names-

  • In Arunachal Pradesh it is called Mokal / Mallo / Kali
  • In Assam it is called  Deobanh / Jatie makal
  • In manipur- it is called  Utang
  • In Sikkim, it is called Mal Bans
  • In Nagaland it is called Rungazumi
  • In Orissa it is called Badi.

Agro- Forestry Uses- Nutans is used as shade for Tea.

Other Uses- Mainly as poles, and  as a source of Fibre for the paper mills.

Primarily  root and stem cuttings

HABIT - Nutans is a Perennial bamboo. Rhizomes are short; pachymorph. Culms are erect; 6 to 12 metres long; 4 to 7 cm in diameter, woody; with some aerial roots at the nodes. Culm-internodes are about 12 to 18 inches, are terete; with relatively small lumen and mid-green to shiny green in colour. Culm-nodes are glabrous, or pubescent. Lateral branches are dendroid. Culm-sheaths are about 6 to 12 inches long; pubescent; with appressed hair or/and black hair, which truncate at apex and auriculate; setose on shoulders. Culm-sheath is ligule 2.5–5 mm high and dentate. Culm-sheath blade is triangular; 6 to 12 inches long; pubescent; acute. Leaves are cauline. Leaf-sheaths are striately veined and pubescent. Leaf-sheath oral hair are setose. Leaf-sheath auricles are falcate. Ligule, an eciliate membrane is obtuse. Collar has an external ligule. Leaf-blade base has a brief petiole-like connection to sheath; petiole is about 0.3–0.5 cm long. Leaf-blades are lanceolate; glandular. Leaf-blade midrib conspicuous. Leaf-blade venation with 14–20 secondary veins. Leaf-blade surface glabrous, or puberulous; hairy abaxially. Leaf-blade margins scabrous. Leaf-blade apex acuminate; antrorsely scabrous.
INFLORESCENCE Synflorescence bractiferous; clustered at the nodes; in untidy tufts; with spathaceous subtending bracts; with axillary buds at base of spikelet; prophyllate below lateral spikelets.
FERTILE SPIKELETS Spikelets comprising 3–5 fertile florets; with diminished florets at the apex. Spikelets lanceolate; subterete; 17–25 mm long; breaking up at maturity; disarticulating below each fertile floret. Rhachilla internodes definite; clavate; pilose; hairy at tip.
GLUMES Glumes several; 2–3 empty glumes.
FLORETS Fertile lemma ovate; 10 mm long; without keel. Lemma inner surface pubescent. Lemma apex acute; mucronate. Palea keels ciliate. Apical sterile florets resembling fertile though underdeveloped.
FLOWER Lodicules 3; membranous; veined; ciliate. Anthers 6–7; anther tip apiculate. Stigmas 2–3; sparsely hairy. Ovary umbonate; pubescent on apex.
FRUIT Caryopsis with adherent pericarp; oblong; hairy at apex.
DISTRIBUTION Asia-tropical: India and Indo-China.



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Dendrocalamus Strictus-Calcutta Bamboo

Dendrocalamus Strictus, also called the Calcutta Bamboo or the Male Bamboo is one of the few species ( or probably the only one), which is almost solid (not hollow), unlike most other bamboos, which have a hollow internode. This characteristic of Dendrocalamus Strictus makes it rather special material of choice for walking sticks (bamboo canes), also called the "lathi" in the local vernacular. The bamboo cane is much stronger than rattan-cane and has a longer shelf life. This species of bamboo also works wonderfully well for manufacture of implement handles, baseball bats, Billy Clubs and other handcrafted impact weapons.


Bamboo belongs to the "GRASS" family of plants-Poaceae. The anatomy of the bamboo plant is a complex system, comprising of two sets of structured vegetative axes: one above ground (the areal part) and the other below the ground (rhizome). The primary areal axis consists of jointed, tall, cylindrical stems, called culms, with branches, extending outward from the culms, developing laterally, constituting secondary aboveground axis. The rhizomes make up the underground axis (roots and buds).


The areal part or the stem is the item of commerce, when harvested on maturity.  it is usually straight and cylinder-like, and has nodes (diaphragms) and internodes, which are normally hollow. 
Each node has two closely positioned rings, the lower one called sheath ring, and the upper, the stem ring. The sheath ring is a scar left behind after the sheath leaf falls off. The stem ring is a scar formed after the inter-nodal growth ceases. The part between the rings is the node itself.
Bamboo internodes are usually hollow inside, barring some rare species, e.g. Dendrocalamus Strictus. Depending on the bamboo species, wall thickness of the stem can vary greatly from thin walled to totally solid.

Bamboo resource in India
India is the second richest, next only to China, in terms of bamboo genetic resources, both collectively, accounting for more than half of the global bamboo resources. More than 136 species of bamboos are said to be occurring in India, out of which, 58 species of bamboo belonging to 10 genera are distributed in the northeastern states. The annual production of bamboo in India is around 4.6 million tonnes.

Bamboo in the Global Context
An evergreen, of the family Poaceae (GRASSES), bamboo is the one of the fastest growing woody perennial on the planet. Most bamboo species/genotypes grow in the tropics; however, some varieties occur naturally in subtropical and temperate zones of all continents except Europe.

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