Herbs & Plants

Melocanna baccifera

Botanical Name: Melocanna baccifera
Family: Poaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Poales
Genus: Melocanna
Species: M. baccifera

*Bambusa baccifera Roxb.
*Beesha baccifera (Roxb.) Kunth
*Melocanna bambusoides Trin. [Illegitimate]
*Nastus baccifera (Roxb.) Raspail

Common Names: Berry Bamboo. Mali bamboo

Habitat: Melocanna baccifera is native to E. Asia – Bangladesh, Myanmar. It is grown in vast stands, usually on hilly ground.

Melocanna baccifera is an evergreen bamboo with an elongated rhizome that produces single culms arising at a distance of about 60 cm apart and reaching a height of 10 – 20 metres. The thin-walled culms have a diameter of 50 – 90mm, with internodes 30 – 60cm long. The flowers are pollinated by Wind. It is an aggressive bamboo, easily occupying large open areas, due to its vigorous long rhizomes and, when fruiting, due to its easily germinating fruits..

One of the most useful bamboos within its native range, especially in Bangladesh, it provides edible shoots, medicine and culms that have a wide range of uses. Usually gathered from the wild, it is occasionally cultivated for these uses. The plant is also grown as an ornamental.


One of the most useful bamboos within its native range, especially in Bangladesh, it provides edible shoots, medicine and culms that have a wide range of uses. Usually gathered from the wild, it is occasionally cultivated for these uses. The plant is also grown as an ornamental

A plant of the moist tropics. It grows best in areas where the mean annual temperature falls within the range 20 – 33°c, though it can tolerate 15 – 38°c. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 2,000 – 3,000mm, tolerating 600 – 4,400mm.
Succeeds in full sun or light shade. Succeeds in moist soils, preferring a fertile medium to heavy soil. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 – 6.5, but tolerates 5 – 7.
Harvesting of the culms may start 5 – 6 years after planting. Young shoots are harvested in the rainy season. Culms are considered mature when 2 years old
The average green culm yield is estimated at 12,000 culms/ha per 3 years, weighing about 84 tonnes. Other reported culm yield data per 3 years per ha in air dry weight are: 38 tonnes (Bangladesh), 21 tonnes (Myanmar) and 17.5 tonnes (India)
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[.
Seedlings, unlike those of most bamboos, grow vigorously from the beginning. By the end of their first year’s growth they have usually produced 1 or 2 shoots, but up to 5 shoots can be produced. The least shoot produced can be up to 3 metres tall. The shoots are crowded together in a clump.
More shoots are produced during the second season – these can be up to 7 metres tall and the clump becomes larger.
By the fifth season, the culms have attained almost their maximum height, but they are still thin and crowded together. Per clump, more than 70 culms may be present.
In later years, the culms become spaced out with the gradual extension of the rhizomes.
Clumps are mature after about 10 years, reaching 4 – 5 metres in diameter and producing 30 – 40 new culms annually.
Young shoots emerge above the soil during the rainy season and develop to their full height within 4 – 6 months. Lateral branches emerge and develop in the following season.
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. The plant flowers gregariously, with a flowering cycle of 30 – 45 years. In the season before flowering no new shoots are produced. Flowering may continue for about 10 years over a tract that is sometimes called a flowering wave. Soon after flowering, the leaves wither and fall, the culms turn yellow and the fruit forms rapidly, ripening and falling – often already germinating even before they fall. Many fruits fail to mature and those produced from the earlier flowering part are larger than those from the later part. Eventually, clumps that have flowered die.
The rhizomes are very vital and start growing easily – this means that eradication of the plant from cleared bamboo forest is very difficult because every rhizome part left in the ground quickly develops into a new plant.

Seed – when available, they afford the best means of propagation. Sown in a nursery bed and only just cover the seeds. Germination usually takes place within a few days – up to 80% of the seed germinates if sown in a shady position, but only 33% in a sunny position. Rhizome development begins 30 – 40 days after germination. Due to its tall and soft stem, the seedling gets easily damaged during handling and transportation – therefore chopping the seedling stem tips at 3 – 5 nodes is generally recommended. Frequent shifting of seedlings from one bed to another helps in minimizing root and rhizome intermingling at the nursery stage.

Normally, seed remains viable for about 35 days. Storage in air-conditioned rooms increases its lifespan up to 45 days, and when stored with dry sand in gunny bags, up to 60 days.
Single-culm clump division. These should be made from the youngest culms, while the lateral buds of the rhizome are still dormant, or before they have pushed more than 50 – 75mm. Most of the culm and the long slender rhizome neck may be discarded for convenience
Culm cuttings are preferably taken from 2-year-old culms.
Propagation with rhizome cuttings is easy and successful. In fact the rhizomes are very vital and start growing easily

Edible Uses:
Young shoots – cooked. The shoots are also sliced and dried in the sun for preservation. The remarkable large fruits are fleshy and edible. They are used as a famine food. The leaves may be used in brewing liquor.

Medicinal Uses:
Tabashir, which is a siliceous concretion found in the culms of the bamboo stem, can be collected from the culms. It is used as a tonic in treating respiratory diseases.

Other Uses:
The culms are widely used in house building; to make woven wares such as baskets, mats, handicrafts, wall plates, screens and hats; and for domestic utensils.
The culms are an important source of superior paper pulp.

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


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