Bambusa arundinacea (Retz.) Willd.
Spiny bamboo, Thorny bamboo, Tziu chu, Kalak, Bans
Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.
- Folk Medicine
- Yields and Economics
- Biotic Factors
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
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,
19671971). 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., 19481976). Leaves given to horses suffering coughs and
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., 19481976). 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).
Eight grams of raw shoots or slightly more improperly cooked shoots can cause
death. Young shoots contain 0.03% HCN (C.S.I.R., 19481976). 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).
Tall woody bamboo, stems thorny, numerous, tufted, up to 40 m tall, curving at
top; branches numerous, internodes 3045 cm long, prominent, bearing in lower
parts of stems dense half whorls of stiff, naked, horizontal branches, armed
with 23 recurved, stout spines; lowest nodes rooting; stem-sheaths leathery,
orange-yellow when young, hairy outside, shining and ribbed inside, 3045 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.
Reported from Asian Centers of Diversity, bamboos are reported to tolerate
insects, laterites, low pH, slope, and weeds (2n = 72, 70) (Duke, 1978).
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.
Probably ranging from Subtropical to Tropical Very Dry to Wet Forest Life
Zones, spiny bamboo probably tolerates annual precipitation of ca 6 to 40 dm,
annual temperature of ca 18 to 29°C, and pH of 4.3 to 7.3. Thrives in
tropical to subtropical climates, growing in warm humid temperate areas as
well, but thriving best under frost-free conditions, in rich to medium fertile
soils with good water supply.
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 7.510 cm apart. Germination occurs in
about a week and seedlings grow rapidly. When plants are 1520 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 3075 cm tall. Other
parts of the plant are harvested whenever needed, as the leaves, branches and
Finding no published data, I estimate the yields in excess of 10 MT DM/ha/yr.
One of the most useful group of plants in the tropics, bamboos are used as food
for man and fodder for livestock, for building materials, for weaving and
cordage, for paper pulp and for making all types of utensils. Bamboos are very
important in the economy of Oriental peoples; millions are occupied in growing
and producing raw bamboo, and manufacturing of bamboo products.
New culms start growing slowly, growth soon approaching 30 cm/day with 75 cm
having been recorded in one day in Sri Lanka. In Trinidad, Bambusa vulgaris
produced more than 10 MT pure dry cellulose pulp per hectare per year on a
three-year cutting cycle. The culms of B. arundinacea are said to be
considerably more durable than those of B. vulgaris. With sheep, the ME
of the leaves is 1.77 megacalories per kg dry weight.
Few serious diseases or pests of bamboos are reported. Bamboo borers can be
Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
- C.S.I.R. (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research). 19481976. The wealth
of India. 11 vols. New Delhi.
- Gohl, B. 1981. Tropical feeds. Feed information summaries and nutritive values.
FAO Animal Production and Health Series 12. FAO, Rome.
- Hartwell, J.L. 19671971. Plants used against cancer. A survey. Lloydia 3034.
- Mitchell, J.C. and Rook, A. 1979. Botanical dermatology. Greenglass Ltd.,
Last update December 30, 1997