Botanical Name: Dendrocalamus giganteus
Species: D. giganteus
Synonyms: Bambusa gigantea Wall. ex Munro Sinocalamus giganteus (Munro) Keng f.
Common Names: Giant Bamboo, Bhalu bans, Dhungre bans
Habitat: Dendrocalamus giganteus is native to E. Asia – Myanmar, Thailand It grows in forests in humid tropical highlands, at elevations up to 1,200 metres.
Dendrocalamus giganteus is an evergreen, very tall, large-culmed, grayish-green bamboo, it grows in clumps consisting of a large number of closely growing culms, and typically reaches a height of 30 meters (98 feet), but one clump in Arunachal Pradesh, India reached a height of 42 meters. Under favorable conditions, it can grow up to 40 cm per day.
Culms are straight and grayish green with a powdery appearance, becoming brownish green on drying, with a smooth surface. Young shoots are blackish purple. Internode length is 25–40 cm, and diameter is 10–35 cm. Culm walls are thin, branching only at the top. Aerial roots occur up to the eighth node. The rootstock is stout.
The culm sheath is greenish when young, becoming dark brown when mature. Sheaths are large and broad, length of sheath proper 24–30 cm, and width is 40–60 cm. The blade is triangular, 7–10 cm long. The top of the sheath is rounded. Auricles are small, equal, and crisped. The upper surface of the sheath is covered with stiff, gold and brownish hairs. The under surface is glossy, and not hairy. Sheath fall off is early.
A plant of the humid tropics and subtropics, where it is found at elevations up to 1,000 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 20 – 27°c, but can tolerate 15 – 34°c. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,800 – 3,600mm, but tolerates 1,200 – 4,500mm. Succeeds in full sun or in light shade. Prefers a rich, alluvial soil. Succeeds in most soils of at lest moderate fertility. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 – 6.5, tolerating 4.5 – 7.5. Offsets consisting of young shoots with small portions of attached rhizome produce small culms in the first year. Subsequent culms increase in size each consecutive year until, after 7 years, they have attained a girth of about 25 cm and a height of about 12 metres. They are then harvested. However, culms only attain full size ultimately at an age of 15 – 16 years. Bamboos have an interesting method of growth. Each plant produces a number of new stems annually – these stems grow to their maximum height in their first year of growth, subsequent growth in the stem being limited to the production of new side branches and leaves. In the case of some mature tropical species the new stem could be as much as 30 metres tall, with daily increases in height of 30cm or more during their peak growth time. This makes them some of the fastest-growing species in the world. At first, the growth of an individual young shoot is very slow, quickening gradually during a period of 4 – 6 weeks until the culm is about 4 metres tall. Then maximum growth is attained and maintained for several weeks (e.g. On average, 32 cm per day), after which growth gradually decreases until it stops when full height is attained at the age of 3.5 months. Rapid growth seems to be induced by high relative humidity, irrespective of light and temperature, causing a high turgescence in the culm. Competition between culms in a clump may cause ‘abortive shoots’, affecting about 50% of all new shoots. Young abortion-prone shoots usually grow within 20 cm from a culm, attaining about 13 cm height before dying. Such young shoots are suitable for vegetable use Bamboos in general are usually monocarpic, living for many years before flowering, then flowering and seeding profusely for a period of 1 – 3 years before usually dying. This species is reputed to have a cycle of around 40 years between major flowerings.
Edible Uses: The young shoots are edible. Creamy and tender when cooked, though they are not widely consumed. They have a fair canning quality
Medicinal Uses: The siliceous secretion of the culm is considered aphrodisiac and tonic.
Agroforestry Uses: Can be planted to protect the soil against erosion.
Other Uses: The large culm sheaths are used to make hats. Strips of the canes are used for weaving mats and baskets. The large culms are used for many purposes, including construction, scaffolding and rural housing, water pipes, buckets, boat masts, matting, woven wares and paper production. The thick-walled culms are especially good for the production of bamboo boards, which are ideal material for room decoration and other practical interior applications such as walls, ceilings, floors, doors, shelves, etc.
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