Saccharum officinarum


''Saccharum officinarum'' is a large, strong-growing of in the '. Its stout stalks are rich in , a simple which accumulates in the . It originated in , and is now cultivated in tropical and subtropical countries worldwide for the of , and other products. ''Saccharum officinarum'' is one of the most productive and most intensively cultivated kinds of . It can interbreed with other sugarcane species, such as ' and '. The major commercial s are complex . About 70% of the sugar produced worldwide comes from ''S. officinarum'' and hybrids using this species.


''Saccharum officinarum'' was first domesticated in and the islands east of the by , where it is the modern center of diversity. Beginning at around 6,000 it was from the native '. From New Guinea it spread westwards to after contact with Austronesians, where it hybridized with '.


''Saccharum officinarum'', a plant, grows in clumps consisting of a number of strong unbranched stems. A network of s forms under the soil which sends up secondary shoots near the parent plant. The stems vary in colour, being green, pinkish, or purple and can reach in height. 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 and grow to a length of about and width of . The terminal inflorescence is a up to long, a pinkish plume that is broadest at the base and tapering towards the top. The s are borne on side branches and are about long and are concealed in tufts of long, silky hair. The fruits are dry and each one contains a single seed. Sugarcane harvest typically occurs before the plants flower, as the flowering process causes a reduction in sugar content.


Portions of the stem of this and several other species of sugarcane have been used from ancient times for chewing to extract the sweet juice. It was cultivated in New Guinea about 8000 years ago for this purpose. Extraction of the juice and boiling to concentrate it was probably first done in India more than 2000 years ago. ''Saccharum officinarum'' and its hybrids are grown for the production of sugar, ethanol, and other industrial uses in tropical and subtropical regions around the world. The stems and the s of the sugar industry are used for feeding to . s fed on sugarcane juice and a -based produced stronger piglets that grew faster than those on a more conventional diet. As its specific name (''officinarum'', "of dispensaries") implies, it is also used in traditional medicine both internally and externally. The Hawaiian word for this species is kō.

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* * {{Authority control Taxa named by Carl Linnaeus