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Useful Tropical Plants

Melocanna baccifera

(Roxb.) Kurz

Poaceae

+ Synonyms

Bambusa baccifera Roxb.

Melocanna bambusoides Trin.

Common Name: Berry Bamboo

Melocanna baccifera
Flowering plant
Photograph by: IRRI Photos
Creative Commons License
Melocanna baccifera Melocanna baccifera Melocanna baccifera

General Information

Berry bamboo 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[
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Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
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Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. The thin-walled culms have a diameter of 50 - 90mm, with internodes 30 - 60cm long. 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[
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].
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[
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Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
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http://proseanet.org/
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Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. Usually gathered from the wild, it is occasionally cultivated for these uses[
310
Title
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http://proseanet.org/
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Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. The plant is also grown as an ornamental[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
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Website
http://proseanet.org/
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Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

Known Hazards

None known

Botanical References


Range

E. Asia - Bangladesh, Myanmar.

Habitat

Occurs in vast stands, usually on hilly ground[
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Ecocrop
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http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
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Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *  *
HabitEvergreen Bamboo
Height15.00 m
Growth RateFast
PollinatorsWind
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Ornamental, Wild

Cultivation Details

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[
418
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Ecocrop
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Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
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Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 2,000 - 3,000mm, tolerating 600 - 4,400mm[
418
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Ecocrop
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Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
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Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Succeeds in full sun or light shade[
418
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Ecocrop
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http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
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Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Succeeds in moist soils, preferring a fertile medium to heavy soil[
418
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Ecocrop
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Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
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Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 6.5, but tolerates 5 - 7[
418
Title
Ecocrop
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Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
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Year
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Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Harvesting of the culms may start 5 - 6 years after planting[
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http://proseanet.org/
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Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. Young shoots are harvested in the rainy season. Culms are considered mature when 2 years old[
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Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
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http://proseanet.org/
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Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
The average green culm yield is estimated at 12,000 culms/ha per 3 years, weighing about 84 tonnes[
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Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. 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)[
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].
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[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].
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[
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]. The least shoot produced can be up to 3 metres tall[
310
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http://proseanet.org/
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Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. The shoots are crowded together in a clump[
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Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
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http://proseanet.org/
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Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
More shoots are produced during the second season - these can be up to 7 metres tall and the clump becomes larger[
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Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
By the fifth season, the culms have attained almost their maximum height, but they are still thin and crowded together[
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Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. Per clump, more than 70 culms may be present[
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Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
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http://proseanet.org/
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Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
In later years, the culms become spaced out with the gradual extension of the rhizomes[
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Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
Clumps are mature after about 10 years, reaching 4 - 5 metres in diameter and producing 30 - 40 new culms annually[
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Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
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http://proseanet.org/
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Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
Young shoots emerge above the soil during the rainy season and develop to their full height within 4 - 6 months[
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Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
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http://proseanet.org/
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Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. Lateral branches emerge and develop in the following season[
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Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
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http://proseanet.org/
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Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
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[
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http://proseanet.org/
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Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. 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[
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Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
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http://proseanet.org/
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Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. Many fruits fail to mature and those produced from the earlier flowering part are larger than those from the later part[
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Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
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Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. Eventually, clumps that have flowered die[
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].
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[
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].

Edible Uses

Young shoots - cooked[
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Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. The shoots are also sliced and dried in the sun for preservation[
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].

The remarkable large fruits are fleshy and edible[
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Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. They are used as a famine food[
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Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

The leaves may be used in brewing liquor[
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Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

Medicinal

Tabashir, which is a siliceous concretion found in the culms of the bamboo stem, can be collected from the culms[
310
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Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
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Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. 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[
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Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
The culms are an important source of superior paper pulp[
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Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
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Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

Propagation

Seed - when available, they afford the best means of propagation[
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Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. 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[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
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http://proseanet.org/
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Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. Rhizome development begins 30 - 40 days after germination[
310
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Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
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http://proseanet.org/
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Year
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Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. 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[
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Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
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http://proseanet.org/
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Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. Frequent shifting of seedlings from one bed to another helps in minimizing root and rhizome intermingling at the nursery stage[
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Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
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http://proseanet.org/
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Year
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Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
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[
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Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
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http://proseanet.org/
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Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
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[
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Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
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http://proseanet.org/
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Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. Most of the culm and the long slender rhizome neck may be discarded for convenience[
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Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
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http://proseanet.org/
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Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
Culm cuttings are preferably taken from 2-year-old culms[
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http://proseanet.org/
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Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
Propagation with rhizome cuttings is easy and successful. In fact the rhizomes are very vital and start growing easily[
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Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
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http://proseanet.org/
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Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

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