Schizostachyum brachycladum Kurz
Journ. As. Soc. Bengal 39(2): 89 (1870).


2n = unknown

Vernacular names Indonesia: buluh lemang (Indonesian), buluh tolang (North Sumatra), buluh sero (Moluccas). Malaysia: buloh lemang, buloh silau (Sabah), buloh telang (Sarawak). Philippines: buho, kauayang buho (Tagalog). Thailand: phai-por, kriap.

Origin and geographic distribution Schizostachyum brachycladum is widespread in South-East Asia, occurring in Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Sulawesi, the Moluccas, Bali and Luzon, growing wild, cultivated or naturalized.

Uses The culms of Schizostachyum brachycladum are widely used, e.g. for roofs (split lengthwise as for the Toraja rice barn and traditional house in Sulawesi), water containers, handicrafts, banana props and as container for cooking glutinous rice ("lemang""). Native people in Sarawak usually use Schizostachyum brachycladum culms for many purposes and if it is not available it is substituted by other thin-walled bamboos; the internodes are used for making water pipes to smoke tobacco; decorated with a pattern carved in low relief ("serobok""), also for various carved containers, for instance, the one used for holy wine served during the Gawai festival ("Garong basket""). Formerly, women in North Sulawesi made clothes from the fibres, after chewing and washing the soft inner part of the culms to extract the fibres. In Bali and Toraja (Sulawesi) the culms are used during burial ceremonies. Young shoots are edible, but rather bitter. The forms with yellow culms are often cultivated as ornamentals. In Sabah this bamboo is also planted on hill slopes to prevent landslides.

Production and international trade Production and trade of Schizostachyum brachycladum are mainly local. Economically it is an important bamboo, but no statistics are available.

Properties The culms of Schizostachyum brachycladum have thin walls and are easily split. The fibres are quite easy to separate from the internodes; they are strong and supple and can be woven into cloth.

Description Densely tufted, sympodial bamboo. Culm erect with pendulous tip, 7—15 m tall, 7—10 cm in diameter, wall 3—5 mm thick, green, bluish-green, or golden-yellow often with narrow green stripes; internodes 30—58 cm long, smooth, usually covered with scattered white hairs when young, becoming glabrous; nodes not swollen, without root primordia. Branches arising from the midculm nodes upward, at each node with a tuft of 25—30 slender subequal branches. Culm sheath rigid, 12—27 cm x 18—35 cm, long persistent, covered with light-brown to brown hairs, junction of top of sheath with blade horizontal; blade triangular with stiff acuminate apex, 4—18 cm x 4—10 cm, erect, rigid, usually glabrous, many nerved; ligule 3 mm long, entire; auricles small, 10 mm long and 2.5 mm tall, bearing crisped bristles 4—5 mm long. Young shoots with rigid culm sheaths and hard broad blades, covered with light brown to brown hairs. Leaf blade lanceolate, 26—32 cm x 3.5—6 cm, hairy below, glabrous above; ligule short, entire; auricles very small, with long bristles. Inflorescence 16—30 cm long, consisting of dense tufts of pseudospikelets 1—3 cm apart at the nodes on the rigid distal part of a leafy branchlet; spikelet 15—25 mm long, comprising 1—2 perfect florets and a rachilla extension bearing a rudimentary floret. Caryopsis not known.

Growth and development A mature clump contains about 30—50 culms. Schizostachyum brachycladum flowers continuously and each mature culm in an established clump bears inflorescences terminating leafy branches. Mature fruits are rarely found. Normally, all plants (clumps) retain their vegetative vigour undiminished after flowering.

Other botanical information Two unnamed forms (varieties) are distinguished within Schizostachyum brachycladum: one with green to bluish-green culms, the other with golden-yellow culms sometimes with green streaks. The yellow form is a popular garden plant in the tropics. It grows commonly and spontaneously in Sabah ("buloh rugading"") and in West Sumatra ("talang kuning""). The green form is often cultivated in rural areas. A form with larger culm-sheath auricles (up to 7 mm tall and spreading beyond the width of the top of the sheath) has been described as var. auriculatum Holttum from Singapore, but probably originates from Indonesia.|Schizostachyum brachycladum is related to Schizostachyum zollingeri Steudel, a common bamboo in southern Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra.

Ecology In the wild, Schizostachyum brachycladum can be found in disturbed or secondary forest in South-East Asia, up to 600 m altitude, rarely in undisturbed forest. It is also commonly found spontaneously or naturalized along roadsides and is frequently cultivated in villages. This bamboo can be grown on any kind of soil but does best in a well-drained sandy clay or sandy loam. The form with bluish-green culms is found above 250 m altitude in Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi and the Moluccas.

Prospects Schizostachyum brachycladum is a useful bamboo, escaping the attention of agronomists but of considerable importance in the daily life of many South-East Asian rural people. Its common occurrence and ready availability have discouraged large-scale cultivation. Nevertheless, it seems worthwhile to investigate its ecological requirements, cultivation methods and possibilities for improvement. Germplasm collection is recommended.

  • Abd. Razak Othman, Hashim Md. Noor & Azmy Hj. Mohamed, 1990. Panduan menanam buluh [Guide to plant bamboos]. FRIM Technical Information No 19. Forest Research Institute Malaysia. 8 pp.
  • Baja-Lapis, A. & Sy, M.U., 1986. Sustained bamboo production: a potential livelihood opportunity. Canopy International 12(6): 5-7.
  • Dransfield, S., 1992. The bamboos of Sabah. Sabah Forest Records No 14. Forestry Department, Sabah, Malaysia. pp. 60-61.
  • Holttum, R.E., 1958. The bamboos of the Malay Peninsula. The Gardens' Bulletin, Singapore 16: 45-47.
  • Santos, J.V., 1986. Bamboos. In: Umali, R.M. et al. (Editors): Guide to Philippine flora and fauna. Vol. 4. Natural Resources Management Center, Ministry of Natural Resources, the Philippines and University of the Philippines, Los Baños, Laguna. pp. 23-24.

Author: S. Dransfield

Source of This Article:
Dransfield, S., 1995. Schizostachyum brachycladum KurzIn: Dransfield, S. & Widjaja, E.A. (Editors). Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 7: Bamboos. Backhuys Publisher, Leiden, The Netherlands, pp. 132-133

Recommended Citation:
Dransfield, S., 1995. Schizostachyum brachycladum Kurz[Internet] Record from Proseabase. Dransfield, S. & Widjaja, E.A. (Editors).
PROSEA (Plant Resources of South-East Asia) Foundation, Bogor, Indonesia.
Accessed from Internet: 16-Jan-2021