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FOC | Family List | FOC Vol. 22 | Poaceae

187. Saccharum Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 54. 1753.

甘蔗属 gan zhe shu

Authors: Shou-liang Chen & Sylvia M. Phillips

Erianthus Michaux; Narenga Bor; Ripidium Trinius (1820), not Bernhardi (1801).

Perennials, rhizomatous or tufted. Culms robust, up to 7 m tall. Leaf blades cauline, narrowly to broadly linear, midrib usually broad, white; ligule membranous, margin ciliolate. Inflorescence terminal, a large plumose panicle with elongate central axis, its branches bearing numerous hairy racemes; racemes fragile, sessile and pedicelled spikelet of a pair similar, both fertile; rachis internodes and pedicels filiform with cupular apex, pedicels resembling internodes but often shorter. Spikelets usually small, lanceolate, dorsally compressed or pedicelled spikelet more rounded on back; callus short, obtuse, bearded, often with long silky hairs surrounding the spikelet; lower glume membranous, thinly cartilaginous, or becoming leathery below, flat to broadly convex, veins indistinct, laterally 2-keeled; upper glume boat-shaped, resembling lower glume in texture and color; lower floret reduced to an empty hyaline lemma; upper floret bisexual, lemma entire, rarely 2-toothed, sometimes very narrow or small, with or without a short straight awn; stamens 2–3. x = 10.

Between 35 and 40 species: throughout the tropics and subtropics, but mainly in Asia; 12 species (two endemic, two introduced) in China.

Species with awns are sometimes separated as the genus Erianthus, but this is an artificial distinction. Saccharum includes the important crop plant S. officinarum (sugarcane).

The fluffy callus hairs are an efficient aid to wind dispersal.

1 Spikelets awned, awn clearly exserted from glumes   (2)
+ Spikelets awnless or a short awn concealed within glumes (if exserted, awn up to 6 mm and panicle brown)   (5)
2 (1) Awn 4–8 mm   (3)
+ Awn 10–28 mm   (4)
3 (2) Panicle much branched; racemes with 3–4 joints; culms 2–3 m tall, glabrous below panicle.   1 S. ravennae
+ Panicle simple; racemes with numerous joints; culms 0.7–1.5 m tall, hirsute below panicle.   2 S. formosanum
4 (2) Spikelets 4–6 mm; awn 13–28 mm.   3 S. longesetosum
+ Spikelets 2–3.5 mm; awn 10–15 mm.   4 S. rufipilum
5 (1) Lower glume glabrous on back; callus hairs much longer than spikelet   (6)
+ Lower glume hairy on back (if subglabrous, panicle purplish); callus hairs equal to or shorter than spikelet   (9)
6 (5) Plant rhizomatous; leaf blades 0.2–0.8 cm wide, narrowed to midrib at base; wild plant.   5 S. spontaneum
+ Plant clump-forming; leaf blades 1–6 cm wide, laminate to base; cultivated plant   (7)
7 (6) Culm apex and axis of panicle glabrous; rachis internodes glabrous; spikelets 3.5–4 mm.   6 S. officinarum
+ Culm apex and axis of panicle pilose; rachis internodes pilose; spikelets ca. 4.5 mm   (8)
8 (7) Culms 3–4 m tall, 3–4 cm in diam.; leaf blades ca. 100 × 3–5 cm.   7 S. sinense
+ Culms ca. 2 m tall, 1–2 cm in diam.; leaf blades ca. 50 × 1–2 cm.   8 S. barberi
9 (5) Lower glume with white hairs, hairs 2–3 times longer than spikelet   (10)
+ Lower glume subglabrous or with brown hairs, hairs shorter than spikelet   (11)
10 (9) Culms 1.5–4(–6) m tall; rachis internodes 3–5 mm; upper lemma mucronate or with awn to 3 mm.   9 S. arundinaceum
+ Culms up to 7 m tall, rachis internodes 6–7 mm; upper lemma awnless.   10 S. procerum
11 (9) Inflorescence coppery or purplish brown; nodes white bearded; callus hairs white or purplish; lower glume subglabrous.   11 S. narenga
+ Inflorescence golden brown; nodes brown bearded; callus hairs golden brown; lower glume hirsute.   12 S. fallax

  • List of lower taxa


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