Saccharum officinarum, a perennial plant, grows in clumps consisting of a number of strong unbranched stems. A network of rhizomes forms under the soil which sends up secondary shoots near the parent plant. The stems vary in colour, being green, pinkish, or purple. They are jointed, nodes being present at the bases of the alternate leaves. The internodes contain a fibrous white pith immersed in sugary sap. The elongated, linear, green leaves have thick midribs and saw-toothed edges. The terminal inflorescence is a panicle up to 60 cm (24 in) long, a pinkish plume that is broadest at the base and tapering towards the top. The spikelets are borne on side branches and are concealed in tufts of long, silky hair. Sugarcane harvest typically occurs before the plants flower, as the flowering process causes a reduction in sugar content.
Plant Morphology :
Growth Form: Tall clumping grass which can grow up to 6 m tall. Foliage: Leaves are arching and linear or lanceolate (about 70 – 150 cm long, 3 – 6 cm wide). Leaves are large with conspicuous mid rib and sharply toothed leaf margin. Leaf sheath is loose mostly glabrous while being slightly hairy at the mouth. Ligule possesses small hairs too. Stems: Stems occur in culms and are about 3 – 6 m tall, 20 – 45 mm in diameter. Culms are solid, juicy, and high in sugar content. Culms are jointed at nodes and have about 20 – 40 nodes. Internodes are often swollen and coloured. Flowers: Flowers are plume-like and usually whitish grey. Panicle is large (50 – 100 cm long), often hairless but pilose at nodes. Fruits: Seed is oblong and small (about 1.5 mm long).
Sugarcane 's facts
Did you know?
Nearly 90% of the weight of the cane is juice, which contains up to 17% sucrose (common sugar) and small amounts of dextrose and fructose.
Sugar cane is now grown in over 100 countries, most of which are underdeveloped. The world sugar trade is complex and controversial as production costs differ around the world. Some think that sugar trade agreements can act as an effective way of providing aid that has a beneficial effect on the communities in developing countries.
The swollen roots of another plant, sugar beet (Beta vulgaris), also make a major contribution to the world population’s seemingly unstoppable craving for sugar.
Sugarcane 's Behavior & Ecology
Sugarcane is native to tropical South-East Asia and Polynesia. Grows best in a sunny position. A very greedy plant, soon exhausting the soil of nutrients. The plant is considered to be moderately tolerant to saline soil conditions and relatively tolerant of acid soils. Grows best in a position sheltered from strong winds. Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 8, but can tolerate 4.5 - 9. In Maldives sugarcane is cultivated in homesteads.
Sugarcane 's Reproduction
Propagation : By Seed and Cuttings.
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
Sugarcane 's Relationship with Humans
Food (Fruit & Vegetable: Source of sugar. Extracted juice from the tissues are processed and refined as sugar cubes, made into syrup and icing sugar. ) Agriculture / Forestry [Others]: Saccharum officinarum have many uses. The culms are used for food, medicine, alcohol production, biofuel, wax, hair removal and more. The reeds are used to make mats and thatch. Sugar is extracted from the soft tissue of the culms. Sugarcane that is planted for production of sugar is often not single species plant but a complex hybrid of several different species.