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Chloothamnus elatus (Holttum) Widjaja

Chloothamnus elatus (BS-0245):
Apex of a culm-leaf in a young shoot, few weeks old (left);
apex of a culm-leaf in a young shoot, several months old (right)

  • Synonym: Nastus elatus Holttum.
  • Thai names: ไผ่รวกปาปัว (phai ruak papua), ไผ่โคลโอทำนุสเอลาทุส (phai khloothamnut elathut).
  • English name: New Guinea Sweet Shoot Bamboo.
  • Distribution: PAPUA NEW GUINEA: throughout the highlands, common.
  • Culm size: Height 15 - 20 m, diameter 7.5 - 10 cm.
  • Description: "... Rhizomes short; pachymorph. Culms erect; 1500–2000 cm long; woody. Culm-internodes terete; 30–45 cm long. Lateral branches dendroid. Branch complement many. Culm-sheaths smooth. Culm-sheath ligule 1.5 mm high; ciliolate. Culm-sheath blade lanceolate; erect, or reflexed; 22 cm long; 42 mm wide. Leaves 5–6 per branch. Ligule an eciliate membrane. Leaf-blade base with a brief petiole-like connection to sheath. Leaf-blades linear; 8–16 cm long; 4–8 mm wide. Leaf-blade apex acuminate. ... [flowers and seeds described]." — Kew GrassBase.
  • Images: Photos in YellowSeedBamboo (habit, culms, shoot); EarthCare (foliage); Quindembo (habit, culms, shoot)
  • Uses: Shoots for food, can be eaten raw; plants as garden ornamentals.
  • Cultivation requirements: Vigorously growing, in part shade to full sun, sandy loam, normal moisture-retentive with very good drainage. Does not tolerate water-logged soil; does not grow well in pots.
  • Specimens: BS-0245 [E6,R01,S3] (living plants), received as "Nastus elatus" from cultivated stock from the USA in 2009.
  • Characters: Habit tight caespitose. Rhizome pachymorph, short-necked. Culms straight, over 8 m long [ultimate size not yet known], erect below, bending or drooping above. Young shoots light green, glabrous, covered with white mealy deposit, appearing bluish; culm-leaf blades green, patent; emerge from June. Culm-internodes terete, 25–32 cm long on mid-culm, bright green when young, glabrous, initially farinose, dull mid-green with bluish tint and smooth when old; diameter 3 cm [ultimate diameter not yet known]; thin-walled, easily splitting, cavity with white pith on basal culm, not easily removable when old, cavity without pith on lower, mid, and upper culm (5th internode 85 cm above ground, diameter 1.9 cm, wall thickness 2–2.5 mm). Culm-nodes glabrous, flat; sheath scar marginally protruding; supranodal line clearly discernible; with a white ring below sheath scar; buds solitary, small, margins initially densely pale ciliate, the first 2–3 (4) lowest nodes without a bud; aerial roots none. Branches many, subequal, thin, 1–2 mm in diameter, from mid-culm up; branching extravaginal and intravaginal; rebranching. Culm-leaves deciduous. Culm-leaf sheaths 8–12 cm wide at base, 14–16 cm long, half as long as the internode, or little longer, rigid, light green to greenish yellow, and copiously covered with white mealy deposit when young, yellowish green, smooth and almost glossy with age, dull yellowish straw-colored with dark spots when dry; margins eciliate; apex rounded. Culm-leaf auricles inconspicuous or none, without bristles. Culm-leaf ligule inconspicuous, ca. 1 mm high, entire, eciliate. Culm-leaf blades rigid, caducous, deflexed to reflexed, linear to broad-linear to lanceolate, 1.5–2 cm wide at junction with sheath, 6–10 cm long, green when young, straw-colored when dry. Foliage-leaves (7) 11–15 per branchlet. Foliage-leaf sheaths green, glabrous. Foliage-leaf auricles inconspicuous or none, without bristles. Foliage-leaf ligule very short, entire, eciliate. Foliage-leaf blades soft, (11) 17 (19) × (0.8) 1.1 (1.3) cm, linear, mid-green to light green, glabrous above, finely pubescent beneath; base rounded to wedge-shaped; apex long-acuminate; margins antrorsely scaberulous; midrib not prominent; petiole short, 0.5–1 mm long.
  • Comments: Vegetative propagation by plant division is known to be difficult and not always successful in this species. A test on propagation was carried out with a 7-year old clump in mid 2017. As a preparation, several medium-sized culms were trimmed: Some culms were trimmed down to leave about 4 dormant buds on the culm without branches and leaves; other culms were trimmed down to a single and lowest branched node, with 2–4 lower nodes each bearing a dormant bud. All the unbranched culms withered and died, and about 60% of the branched culms survived.