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A Commentary on the Bamboos (Poaceae: Bambusoideae)

Thomas R. Soderstrom and Cleofe E. Calderon
Biotropica
Vol. 11, No. 3 (Sep., 1979), pp. 161-172
DOI: 10.2307/2388036
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2388036
Page Count: 12
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A Commentary on the Bamboos (Poaceae: Bambusoideae)
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Abstract

Bamboos, or tree grasses, comprise the most diverse and certainly least-understood group of plants in the grass family. Herbaceous grasses that occur in tropical shaded forests share similar anatomical and morphological features with the bamboos, and with them make up the grass subfamily Bambusoideae. Both groups have been inadequately collected, the herbaceous bambusoid grasses primarily because the plants often appear sterile when in full flower, and the bamboos because they bloom so seldom. The bamboos of Asia have received far more attention taxonomically than those of the New World, where many new genera and species are now coming to light due to recent explorations. Numerous biological problems are presented by the Bambusoideae, such as the phenomenon of cyclic flowering, modes of pollination, and types of sleep movements in the leaves. Also numerous cytological questions remain to be answered. Wherever man has come into contact with bamboo he has found multiple uses for it, from food in the form of new shoots, to construction and papermaking. Apart from such practical uses as these, many members of the subfamily are cultivated as ornamentals. The genera of Bambusoideae that occurs in Asia, Africa and Madagascar, and the New World are listed.

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