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Useful Tropical Plants

Saccharum officinarum

L.

Poaceae

+ Synonyms

Arundo saccharifera Garsault

Saccharifera officinalis Stokes

Saccharum atrorubens Cuzent & Pancher ex Drake

Saccharum fragile Cuzent & Pancher ex Drake

Saccharum glabrum Cuzent & Pancher ex Drake

Saccharum hybridum R.M.Grey

Saccharum infirmum Steud.

Saccharum luzonicum Cuzent & Pancher ex Drake

Saccharum monandrum Rottb.

Saccharum occidentale Sw.

Saccharum officinale Salisb.

Saccharum rubicundum Cuzent & Pancher ex Drake

Saccharum spontaneum luzonicum Hack

Saccharum violaceum Tussac

Common Name: Sugarcane

Saccharum officinarum
Flowering thick-stemmed sugar cane
Photograph by: Ton Rulkens
Creative Commons License
Saccharum officinarum Saccharum officinarum Saccharum officinarum Saccharum officinarum Saccharum officinarum Saccharum officinarum Saccharum officinarum

General Information

Sugarcane is a large, perennial, grass. It produces thick culms that may grow up to 2 - 3 meters tall, but with extended growing periods the plant can become much taller[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
A major crop in the tropics, where it is grown mainly for the sap in the stems which is used for making sugar, alcohol for fuel etc. The plant is also a major source of biomass and a useful wax. It has been cultivated since ancient times[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
].

Known Hazards

Leaves and sheaths of some varieties are covered with a large number of siliceous hairs. These hairs penetrate the skin of cane cutters and are most unpleasant; hence cane cutters prefer varieties with few hairs or burnt cane[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].

Botanical References

200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.

Range

Originated in cultivation.

Habitat

Not known as a wild plant.

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *  *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *  *  *
HabitPerennial
Height6.00 m
Growth RateFast
Cultivation StatusCultivated

Cultivation Details

Most commercial sugarcane is grown at latitudes between 35°N and S in the tropics, usually at elevations from sea level to 1,600 metres[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. The plant grows best in areas where the mean annual rainfall is in the range 1,500 - 2,000mm, tolerating 1,000 - 5,000mm[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It prefers a mean annual temperature within the range 24 - 37°c, though can tolerate 15 - 41°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. There are large differences between different cultivars in their tolerance to cold and susceptibility to frost[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Generally, long-term exposure to temperatures below 10°c can be lethal, whilst even short periods at 0°c causes the leaves to become chlorotic, at about -3°c young plants turn brown and the terminal buds and leaves of mature cane die, when the temperature reaches -11.5°c the whole plant dies[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Grows best in a sunny position. A very greedy plant, soon exhausting the soil of nutrients[
459
Title
The Useful Plants of the Island of Guam
Publication
Contributions from the United States National Herbarium Vol 9
Author
Safford W.E.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/
Publisher
Smithsonian Institute; Washington.
Year
1905
ISBN
 
Description
A very comprehensive, if rather dated, guide to the plants of Guam. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
]. The plant is considered to be moderately tolerant to saline soil conditions and relatively tolerant of acid soils[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Grows best in a position sheltered from strong winds[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 8, but can tolerate 4.5 - 9[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Well-grown plants can become invasive[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
When irrigated, yields of 100 - 150 tons of cane can be obtained from mature plants[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Young plants can yield 60 - 90 tons[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
There are many named varieties[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
].
The roots develop from the growth ring on the original planting piece and also from the new shoots that develop. The majority of the roots are thin and superficial with four fifths of the roots commonly found in the top 25 - 50cm of the soil. Thicker roots will penetrate to depths of 4 metres or more[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].

Edible Uses

The stems contain a very sweet sap[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
]. They are crushed to extract this sap, which is then used in a variety of ways. It can be used as a sweet, refreshing drink, though it is more commonly concentrated to make syrups or dried to make sugar, molasses etc[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
].

The core of fresh stems is chewed as a sweet refreshment[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
].

Medicinal

The leaf ash is used to treat sore eyes[
311
Title
Medicinal Plants in the South Pacific
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
WHO Regional Publications, Manilla.
Year
1998
ISBN
92-9061-118-9
Description
Excellent guide to 102 medicinal herbs of the Pacific Islands, with photographs of each plant and details of their constituents, biological activities and traditional uses. A description of each plant, together with habitat and distribution is given.
].

The stem juice is used to treat sore throats[
311
Title
Medicinal Plants in the South Pacific
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
WHO Regional Publications, Manilla.
Year
1998
ISBN
92-9061-118-9
Description
Excellent guide to 102 medicinal herbs of the Pacific Islands, with photographs of each plant and details of their constituents, biological activities and traditional uses. A description of each plant, together with habitat and distribution is given.
]. The sweet juice in the stem is used to treat snakebite and wounds from poison arrows[
348
Title
Medicinal Plants of the Guianas
Publication
 
Author
DeFilipps, R. A.; Maina, S. L.; & Crepin, J.
Website
http://botany.si.edu/bdg/medicinal/index.html
Publisher
Smithsonian Museum
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A down-loadable PDF document of a book in pre-publication awaiting illustration. An excellent, if rather terse, guide to the traditional medicinal uses of the plants of the region
]. Mixed with an infusion of 'wallaba' (Eperua sp.) it is used to treat curare poisoning[
348
Title
Medicinal Plants of the Guianas
Publication
 
Author
DeFilipps, R. A.; Maina, S. L.; & Crepin, J.
Website
http://botany.si.edu/bdg/medicinal/index.html
Publisher
Smithsonian Museum
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A down-loadable PDF document of a book in pre-publication awaiting illustration. An excellent, if rather terse, guide to the traditional medicinal uses of the plants of the region
]

A decoction of the young leaves is used to treat urinary conditions[
348
Title
Medicinal Plants of the Guianas
Publication
 
Author
DeFilipps, R. A.; Maina, S. L.; & Crepin, J.
Website
http://botany.si.edu/bdg/medicinal/index.html
Publisher
Smithsonian Museum
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A down-loadable PDF document of a book in pre-publication awaiting illustration. An excellent, if rather terse, guide to the traditional medicinal uses of the plants of the region
].

Agroforestry Uses:

Sugar cane is a very greedy crop that soon exhausts the soil. In some countries the plant is intercropped with indigo or other leguminous plants between the rows when the canes are first planted. These legumes are turned into the soil while they are still green and succulent. This process has a very beneficial effect[
459
Title
The Useful Plants of the Island of Guam
Publication
Contributions from the United States National Herbarium Vol 9
Author
Safford W.E.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/
Publisher
Smithsonian Institute; Washington.
Year
1905
ISBN
 
Description
A very comprehensive, if rather dated, guide to the plants of Guam. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].

Other Uses

A wax obtained from the stems resembles carnauba wax[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
]. It is used in the production of furniture, shoe, and leather polishes, electrical insulating material, and waxed paper[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].

The sweet sap from the stems can be manufactured into alcohol for used as a fuel in infernal combustion engines[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
].

The stems are a source of fibre used for making paper[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
].

Bagasse is the residue of the cane after the sugar is extracted. It is used as a fuel and for the manufacture of fibreboard, paper pulp, plastic, furfural, and cellulose[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].

Propagation

Seed -
Cuttings, consisting of 2 - 3 joints of the upper part of a stem that has been selected from a vigorous, healthy plant. They are placed in the ground with only 2 - 5cm of the cutting projecting above the surface. In about two weeks from planting the 'eyes' at each node will send forth shoots, and roots will grow from the nodes themselves. As the shoots develop, the parent stem decays and the young plants produce roots of their own[
459
Title
The Useful Plants of the Island of Guam
Publication
Contributions from the United States National Herbarium Vol 9
Author
Safford W.E.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/
Publisher
Smithsonian Institute; Washington.
Year
1905
ISBN
 
Description
A very comprehensive, if rather dated, guide to the plants of Guam. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].

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