Herbs & Plants

Bambusa arundinacea Willd

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Botanical Name : Bambusa arundinacea Willd
Family :Graminae, Poaceae
Common Name :Mungil, Bans, Kotoha, Ketua, Kantaki, Keechaka, Vamsha, Spiny thorn bamboo

Bengali/vernacular name: Bans, Kantabans, Ketsi.
 English name: Bamboo, Spiny Bamboo.

Habitat : The plant grows wild all over India, mainly in forests of western and southern parts of the country.Thorny Bamboo is native over much of India. It is Wild in most parts of tropical India and Pakistan, growing up to 1000 m altitudes in the Nilgiris and hills of southern India; north into China.

It grows up to 1500 – 2000 meters elevation. It is an erect, 15-35 meters tall, thorny tree , with many stems. The plant is hollow between the joints, with 2-3 alternate thorns on the stem. The leaves sheathing, linear, 20 cm long and 2 cm broad, lanceolate, tapering in the pointed tips. The flowers in bunches, yellow or yellowish green in long panicles. The fruits are oblong grains, resembling like yava fruits, hence called as vamsayava.

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Tall woody bamboo, stems thorny, numerous, tufted, up to 40 m tall, curving at top; branches numerous, internodes 30–45 cm long, prominent, bearing in lower parts of stems dense half whorls of stiff, naked, horizontal branches, armed with 2–3 recurved, stout spines; lowest nodes rooting; stem-sheaths leathery, orange-yellow when young, hairy outside, shining and ribbed inside, 30–45 cm long; blade triangular, glabrous, covered with a brown felt of bristly hairs inside; leaves thin, linear, up to 20 cm long, glabrous above, hair beneath; leaf-sheaths hairy, small; inflorescence an enormous panicle, often occupying the entire stem; branchlets loose clusters of pale, glabrous spikes.

Bamboos may be produced by means of seeds, vegetative portions or by layering the stems and letting them root at the nodes. Seeds are sown in soil about 0.6 cm deep and about 2.5 cm apart in rows 7.5–10 cm apart. Germination occurs in about a week and seedlings grow rapidly. When plants are 15–20 cm tall, they are transplanted to individual containers. Transplanting to the field is done when plants are about 1 m tall. Growing plants from seed is the most economical and convenient method of propagating large numbers of plants. Clump division is the traditional and most generally prevalent method of propagating bamboos vegetatively. Active growth of young shoots from buds on the rhizome in this group of bamboos is initiated during the summer. The commonly recommended practice is to process vegetative propagules just before the initiation of growth of these buds. A clump is divided into two equal parts, retaining the root system, branches and leaves of each part as fully intact as possible. Properly set out, these propagules usually give the highest degree of success. Clump divisions taken from the edge of the clump are apt to give superior results. The rhizome should be severed at one point only, at the neck of the oldest rhizome axis in the propagule. Cut should be made at the slender neck where the minimum damage to the rhizome is done. Roots are best preserved and protected keeping them in a ball of earth when the propagule is taken from the parent plant. Some species, as B. tulda, has been successfully propagated by rhizomes planted in situ, with 95% survival not uncommon. Culm segments, with one or more nodes, bearing buds or branches, are used widely as a means of propagation in both the Old and New World. Branches are usually pruned to 30 cm or less, with no foliage retained. Such cuttings are set upright or at an angle, with at least one node well covered. B. vulgaris is often propagated this way.

Bamboos are harvested for food when the young shoots are 30–75 cm tall. Other parts of the plant are harvested whenever needed, as the leaves, branches and woody stems.

Edible Uses: The roots, leaves, sprouts, fruits and the gum resin – vamsarocana, have great medicinal value.

Constituents :
It contains silica 90% or silicon as hydrate of silicic acid, peroxide or iron, potash, lime, alumina, vegetable matter. The grains of the plant contain water 11.0%, starch 73.1%, albuminoids 11.86%, fiber 1.7% and ash 1.2%. The young shoots containing cyanogenic glycoside are poisonous. The glycoside is gydrolysed by an enzyme also present in the shoots when they are cut and soaked in water.

The stem consists almost entirely of cellulose and hemicellulose (xylans, arabans, polyuronides, etc.) and lignins, with a small amount of resins. Oven-dried stems contain 3.3% ash, 1.8% silica, 6.0% hot water solubles (see above), 19.6% pentosans, 30.1% lignin, and 57.6% cellulose. Analyses from paper pulping showed 8.5% water extract, 1.2% fat, wax, etc., 24.4% pectose, 15.6% lignin, 50.3% cellulose, and 1.6% ash. Per 100 g, the seeds are reported to contain 11.0% H2O, 11.8 g protein, 0.6 g fat, 75.4 g total carbohydrate, 1.7 g fiber, and 1.2 g ash (C.S.I.R., 1948–1976). On a zero moisture basis the fresh leaves (57.1% DM) contain 18.6% CP, 24.1% CF, 11.8% ash, 4.1% EE, 41.4% NFE. With sheep the CP exhibits 72.4% digestibility, CF 49.1%, EE 10.8%, and NFE 48.8% (Gohl, 1981). Per 100 g, the shoot is reported to contain 29 calories, 90.7 gH2 0, 2.3 g protein, 0.2 g fat, 6.6 g total carbohydrate, 0.5 g fiber, 0.7 g ash, 33 mg Ca, 41 mg P, 0.4 mg Fe, 20 meg b-carotene equivalent, 0.15 mg thiamine, 0.7 mg riboflavin, 0.6 mg niacin, and 4 mg ascorbic acid (Food Comp. Table Latin America).

Medicinal Uses:
Vamsa is sweet and astringent in taste, sweet in the post digestive effect and has cold potency. The seeds are bitter in taste, pungent in the post digestive effect and have hot potency. The gum resin is astringent and sweet in taste, sweet in the post digestive effect and has cold potency. All these, mentioned above, alleviate kapha and pitta doshas. The seeds aggravate pitta and vata doshas, whereas the sprouts aggravate all the three doshas. The chief properties of vamsa are diuretic, wound-healer and cleanse the urinary bladder. Vamsarocana is anti-tussive, anabolic and a general tonic. The seeds have vermicidal property. Vamsa is used in the diseases like dermatitis, wounds, edema, blood disorders etc. Vamsarocana is a rejuvenative for lungs and is salutary in cough, asthma, tuberculosis and urinary disorders and the seeds (vamsayava) in helminthiasis. (Kaiyadeva and Dhanvantari Nighantu)

Vamsa is used both, internally as well as externally. Externally, the paste of roots is panacea for various skin disorders and discoloration. The sprouts are beneficial in dressing the wounds. The burnt ash of roots is useful in ringworm infestations and premature hair loss. Internally, vamsa is used in vast range of diseases. The decoction of the sprouts is beneficial in anorexia, dyspepsia and worms. Vamsarocana (bamboo manna) is useful in various disorders like hyperdipsia, diarrhea, vomiting, Rakta pitta, heart diseases, cough, asthma, fever, tuberculosis and a general tonic in convalescents. The leaves are cooling, emmenagogue, hence, beneficial in dysmenorrhea. The roots are diuretic, tonic, depurative, laxative and cooling; they are used in skin diseases, burning sensation, arthralgia, general debility and dysuria. The fruits are salutary in diabetes whereas, the seeds are useful in obesity to reduce fats. The decoction of roots is an antidote for arka (Calotropis procera) poisoning.

Very young shoots are consumed as food in some parts of India and China. In raw state, shoots (ca 8 cm in diameter and 37.5 cm long) are very acrid, but with two changes of water in cooking and with addition of salt and butter, they make a pleasant vegetable. Young shoots pickled or made into curries. Wood used by Chinese in household carpentry, furniture, boxes, ornamental vases, scaffolding, etc. Leaves used as fodder. Stems in great demand for manufacture of paper pulp of good quality. Seeds edible and used in times of scarcity of food. Other species of Bambusa, found in various parts of the tropics, are used for similar purposes: those used for the young shoots or buds as a vegetable include B. cornuta Munro, B. multiplex Raeusch, B. oldhami Munro, B. spinosa Roxb., B. tulda Roxb., and B. vulgaris Schrad.; species used for construction and other such purposes include B. balcooa Robx. (one of the best and strongest bamboos for building purposes), B. multiplex Raeusch (culms used for paper), B. nana Roxb. (fishing poles), B. pervariabilis McClure (heavy construction), B. polymorphs Munro (roofs of houses, floors and walls), B. sinospinosa McClure (sheaths made into sandals), B. spinosa Roxb. (timber bamboo), B. texilis McClure, B. tulda Roxb., and B. tuldoides Munro (weaving mats, hats, baskets and ropes), B. vulgaris Schrad. (paper pulp), B. beecheyana Munro [Sinocalamus beecheyanus (Munro)McClure] is an important source of commercial edible bamboo shoots.

Folk Medicine :
An ointment from the root is said to be a folk remedy for cirrhosis and hard tumors, especially tumors of the abdomen, liver, spleen and stomach (Hartwell, 1967–1971). Tabasheer, a siliceous secretion (up to 97% SiO2), considered aphrodisiac, cooling, and tonic, is used in asthma, cough and debilitating diseases (C.S.I.R., 1948–1976). Leaves given to horses suffering coughs and colds.

Other uses: The culms are strong and extensively used for building purposes. A single herbarium collection is known: Kashmir, Falconer 1245(K).

Eight grams of raw shoots or slightly more improperly cooked shoots can cause death. Young shoots contain 0.03% HCN (C.S.I.R., 1948–1976). Hairs on various bamboos, and fungi which live thereon, may cause dermatitis (Mitchell and Rook, 1979). Benzoic acid and traces of cyanogenic glucoside present in shoots have lethal effect on mosquito larvae (has antiseptic and larval properties).

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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