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Vol. 7(9), pp. 18The McAllen International Orchid Society JournalSeptember 2006

A Correction

R J Ferry

Some months back, your editor (Ferry, 2005a,b) wrote about giant cane and a few suggested uses for it. Orchid-wise, the information was sound. However, recently a couple of recent emails came in from two lovers of bamboo from the Florida area. They had taken notice of the articles via surfing the web and picking up the MIOS website. They were prompt (and kind) to convey to your editor the correction given here.

The giant cane written about is not Arundinaria bambusifolia sub species gigantea. The local information given your editor (and conveyed) was in error although its "canes" look suspiciously like bamboo and are locally referred to as "cane poles" and "bamboo poles."

Fig. 1. Giant Reed; Arundo donax L., Dig. Photo DSC_0300a 4 Nov., 2005.

Both plants are members of the grass family (Poaceae). However, what we have in Texas is Arundo donax L.(Fig. 1), known as giant reed, carrizo, caña brava, and also locally (thoughout southern Texas), but erroneously called "giant cane" and "bamboo poles." Both plants have stems to 5 meters or more, and have several other characters that are quite similar. However, Arundo donax was imported from the Mediterranean and was introduced to (and is naturalized in) Arkansas and Texas, and west to southern California. However, to make things a bit more confusing, Arundo donax is also occasionally found on the eastern US coast from Maryland south, and in tropical America.

For the casual (and even more-than-casual) orchidist, look at it this way: if you're in Texas, what you're seeing is "giant reed," (Arundo donax), not "giant cane" (Arundinaria gigantea). If you want to be a really knit-picky botanist, the lemma of Arundo donax is thin, 3-nerved, long-pilose, gradually tapered, awned from the central nerve, the other nerves ending in slender teeth, while Arundinaria gigantea displays a lemma that's papery, rather thin, about 11-nerved, acute to awn-tipped.

In short, if you're looking at Arundinaria gigantea, you're not in Texas!

Your editor apologizes for any confusion caused by the misidentification.


Bailey, L. H., and Ethel Zoe Bailey. 1976. Hortus Third. revised & expanded by the staff of The Liberty Hyde Bailey Hortorium. New York: McMillan Publishing company, Inc. 1290pp.

Ferry, R. J. 2005a. Remarks Concerning Canebreaks and Cane Brakes. MIOS Journal 6(11): 3-5 (November)

________ . 2005b. Another Note Concerning Using Cane for Plant Support. MIOS Journal 6(12): 4 (December)

Copyright © 2006 R J Ferry