1. Family: Poaceae Barnhart
    1. Genus: Oxytenanthera Munro
      1. Oxytenanthera abyssinica (A.Rich.) Munro

        Oxytenanthera abyssinica is a drought-resistant species of bamboo that grows in savanna woodland, semi-arid wooded grassland and thicket. It flowers after long periods of vegetative growth, occasionally sets seed and then dies back, sometimes synchronously across large areas. This phenomenon has led to the superstition in Mali that the fruiting of the bamboo is a bad omen for kings, conquerors and chiefs. It last seeded in 2006.

    [FZ]

    Gramineae, E. Launert. Flora Zambesiaca 10:1. 1971

    Habit
    A robust bamboo, growing in dense clumps.
    Culms
    Culms up to 13 m. tall, 5-10 cm. in diam., many-noded, erect, densely covered with appressed hairs when young, later glabrous, solid or thick-walled; culm-sheaths covered with dark-brown stiff hairs; lamina 1-2 cm. long, involute, pungent.
    Leaf sheaths
    Leaf-sheaths without auricles, with a few setae near the collar.
    Leaf lamina
    Leaf-laminae 5-25 x 1-3 cm., linear-lanceolate to lanceolate, tapering to a fine pungent point, inconspicuously tessellate, glaucous.
    Spikelets
    Spikelet clusters 4-8 mm. in diam., globose, often apparently confluent, spiny; bracts up to 4 mm. long, ovate, dorsally rounded but the lowermost 2 keeled. Spikelets 1·5-4 cm. long, 1-4-flowered, very narrowly lanceolate.
    Glume
    Glumes ovate to oblong, apex obtuse to acute, usually scattered with short stiff hairs; the inferior 5-8 mm. long; the superior 8-10 mm. long.
    Lemma
    Lemmas narrowly lanceolate, dorsally hispidulous; the lower 1·2-2 cm. long; the uppermost almost as long as the spikelet, tapering into a rigid spine up to 7 mm. long.
    Palea
    Palea slightly shorter than the lemmas, narrowly lanceolate.
    [FWTA]

    Gramineae, W. D. Clayton. Flora of West Tropical Africa 3:2. 1972

    Habit
    Culms up to about 6 m. high and 5 cm. diam.
    Stem
    Stems thick-walled, almost solid
    Ecology
    In savanna.
    [FTEA]

    Gramineae, W. D. Clayton, S. M. Phillips & S. A. Renvoize. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 1974

    Habit
    Bamboo, in dense clumps; culms 3–10 m. high, 5–10 cm. in diameter, erect, at first densely silky with appressed hairs, solid or thick-walled; culm-sheaths with dark brown bristly hairs, tipped with an involute pungent blade 1–2 cm. long.
    Leaves
    Leaf-blades linear-lanceolate to lanceolate, 5–25 cm. long and 1–3 cm. wide, somewhat glaucous, with inconspicuous transverse veins, gradually narrowed to a fine pungent tip; leaf-sheaths with a few deciduous setae 2–5 mm. long on the shoulders, without auricles.
    Inflorescences
    Spikelet-clusters globose, sometimes ± confluent, 4–8 cm. across, spiny; bracts ovate, up to 4 mm. long, rounded on the back (except the lowest which is 2-keeled).
    Spikelets
    Spikelets very narrowly lanceolate, 15–40 mm. long, 1–4-flowered, 1 or sometimes 2 upper florets hermaphrodite, the rest reduced to lemmas; glumes ovate to oblong, ± shortly hispidulous, obtuse to acute, the lower 5–8 mm. long, the upper 8–10 mm. long; lemmas narrowly lanceolate, the lowest 12–20 mm. long, the uppermost about as long as the spikelet, ± hispid on the back, tipped by a rigid spine up to 7 mm. long; palea narrowly lanceolate, a little shorter than the lemma.
    Figures
    Fig. 3.
    [GB]
    Habit
    Perennial; caespitose. Rhizomes short; pachymorph. Culms erect; 300-1000 cm long; 50-100 mm diam.; woody. Culm-internodes terete; thick-walled, or solid; distally pubescent (at first). Lateral branches dendroid. Branch complement many; in an irregular line; with 1 branch dominant. Culm-sheaths hispid; with dark brown hairs; without auricles. Culm-sheath blade linear; 1-2 cm long; acuminate. Leaves cauline. Leaf-sheath oral hairs setose. Ligule an eciliate membrane. Leaf-blade base broadly rounded; with a brief petiole-like connection to sheath. Leaf-blades deciduous at the ligule; lanceolate; 5-25 cm long; 10-30 mm wide; glaucous. Leaf-blade venation with obscure cross veins. Leaf-blade surface glabrous. Leaf-blade apex attenuate; hardened.
    Inflorescences
    Synflorescence bractiferous; stellate, or clustered at the nodes; in stellate clusters; 4-8 cm long; dense; with glumaceous subtending bracts; with axillary buds at base of spikelet; prophyllate below lateral spikelets; leafless between clusters.
    Spikelets
    Spikelets comprising 1-3 basal sterile florets; 1(-2) fertile florets; without rhachilla extension. Spikelets lanceolate; laterally compressed, or subterete; 15-40 mm long; breaking up at maturity; disarticulating above glumes but not between florets.
    Fertile
    Spikelets comprising 1-3 basal sterile florets; 1(-2) fertile florets; without rhachilla extension. Spikelets lanceolate; laterally compressed, or subterete; 15-40 mm long; breaking up at maturity; disarticulating above glumes but not between florets.
    Glume
    Glumes similar; shorter than spikelet; similar to fertile lemma in texture. Lower glume oblong to ovate; 5-8 mm long; 0.8 length of upper glume; coriaceous; without keels; 17-30 -veined. Lower glume surface hispidulous. Lower glume apex obtuse, or acute. Upper glume oblong to ovate; 8-10 mm long; 0.25 length of adjacent fertile lemma; coriaceous; without keels; 17-30 -veined. Upper glume lateral veins with cross-veins. Upper glume surface hispidulous. Upper glume apex obtuse, or acute.
    Florets
    Basal sterile florets barren; without significant palea; attached to and deciduous with the fertile. Lemma of lower sterile floret similar to fertile lemma; lanceolate; 12-20 mm long; coriaceous; 26-32 -veined; with cross-veins; hispid; acuminate; awned. Awn of lower sterile floret 2-7 mm long. Fertile florets increasing in size upwards. Fertile lemma elliptic; 15-40 mm long; coriaceous; without keel; 26-32 -veined. Lemma lateral veins with cross-veins. Lemma surface hispid. Lemma margins convolute; covering most of palea. Lemma apex acute; awned; 1 -awned. Principal lemma awn pungent; 2-7 mm long overall. Palea lanceolate; tightly convolute around flower; scarious; 16-19 -veined; without keels, or 2-keeled but the uppermost without keels.
    Flowers
    Lodicules absent. Anthers 6; anther tip apiculate. Filaments united in a tube. Stigmas 3; papillose. Styles connate below. Ovary with a steeple-like appendage; glabrous.
    Fruits
    Caryopsis with adherent pericarp.
    Distribution
    Africa: west tropical, west-central tropical, northeast tropical, east tropical, southern tropical, and south.
    Reference
    Bambuseae. FTEA.
    [KSP]

    Kew Species Profiles

    General Description
    Oxytenanthera abyssinica (Bindura bamboo) is a drought-resistant bamboo from tropical Africa. Kew's Millennium Seed Bank holds several thousand seeds from this species.

    Oxytenanthera abyssinica is a drought-resistant species of bamboo that grows in savanna woodland, semi-arid wooded grassland and thicket. It flowers after long periods of vegetative growth, occasionally sets seed and then dies back, sometimes synchronously across large areas. This phenomenon has led to the superstition in Mali that the fruiting of the bamboo is a bad omen for kings, conquerors and chiefs. It last seeded in 2006.

    The Millennium Seed Bank now holds several thousand seeds from this species, which will be used for conservation research both in the UK and in Mali.

    Species Profile

    Geography and distribution

    Native throughout tropical Africa outside the humid forest zone, from Senegal to Ethiopia, south to Angola, Mozambique and northern South Africa. Introduced to parts of Asia and elsewhere.

    Description

    Bindura bamboo is a woody perennial. It has a clump forming habit with canes that are sometimes zig-zag. Stems are up to 10cm in diameter; clump height of approximately 9m.

    Threats and conservation

    Seeds from Oxytenanthera abyssinica have been collected in west Africa by the Millennium Seed Bank Project's partner institution in Mali, the Institut d’Économie Rurale. It is a priority for conservation because it is a very useful plant, its natural habitat is under increasing threat, and it sets seed only once every seven or so years.

    The bamboo has many uses and is therefore highly valuable to local people, but is threatened in the wild by over-harvesting, animal grazing and urban development, as well as bush fire. It is now a fully protected species in Mali; harvesting is carefully controlled and reintroduction programmes have been established.

    Uses

    Within Mali and other sub-Saharan African countries, Bindura bamboo is used for house construction, roofing, scaffolding, fencing, furniture, tool handles, arrow shafts, fish traps and a range of other products. Split stems are used for basketry.

    Young stems and leaves, and the seeds, can be eaten as famine food. The seeds and sap are used to make alcoholic beverages.

    The stems are used as fuelwood and for making charcoal, and can be pulped for paper-making.

    The leaves and rhizome are used medicinally. In Senegal, leaf decoctions are used for treating polyuria, oedema and albuminaria, and the rhizome is used in the treatment of dysentery, diabetes and rheumatism.

    The leaves are also browsed by livestock.

    Oxytenanthera abyssinica is used in windbreaks for soil erosion control and for rehabilitating degraded lands in Sudan and Tanzania, and is also used as an ornamental plant.

    Millennium Seed Bank: Seed storage

    Kew's Millennium Seed Bank Partnership aims to save plant life world wide, focusing on plants under threat and those of most use in the future. Seeds are dried, packaged and stored at a sub-zero temperature in our seed bank vault.

    Number of seed collections stored in the Millennium Seed Bank: TwoSeed storage behaviour:Orthodox (the seeds of this plant survive being dried without significantly reducing their viability, and are therefore amenable to long-term frozen storage such as at the MSB)Germination testing: Successful

    Cultivation

    Bindura bamboo can be grown in full sun on slopes in poor dry soils that must be well drained. It is the hardiest of the three African species of Oxytenanthera. Propagation by rhizome divisions, and seeds are rare.

    Distribution
    Angola, Ethiopia, Mozambique, South Africa
    Ecology
    Savanna woodland, semi-arid wooded grassland and thicket.
    Conservation
    Not evaluated by the IUCN.
    Hazards

    Not recorded.

    [KSP]
    Use
    Building materials, textiles and fibres, food, fuel, medicinal.

    Images

    Distribution

    Found In:

    Angola, Benin, Burkina, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Repu, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Gulf of Guinea Is., Ivory Coast, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Northern Provinces, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe

    Common Names

    English
    Bindura bamboo

    Oxytenanthera abyssinica (A.Rich.) Munro appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Identified Reference Herbarium Specimen Type Status
    Sihvonen, J. [174], Burkina Faso K000386596
    Snowden [s.n.], Uganda K000743016
    Raynal, J. [20969], Mali K000386597
    Schimper [501], Ethiopia K000244553
    Tutin, C.E.G. [26], Senegal K000743017
    Meyer, F.G. [8168], Ethiopia K000743020
    Keudel [2064A] K000244556
    Greenway, PG. [15200], Tanzania K000743021
    Keudel [2064B], Tanzania K000244557
    Deighton, F.C. [5490], Sierra Leone K000743022
    illegible [1347], Tanzania K000244558
    Milne-Redhead, E. [7870], Tanzania K000743029
    Milne-Redhead, E. [9109], Tanzania K000743030
    Wickens, G.E. [2925], Sudan K000743032
    Bidgood, S. [5259], Tanzania K000190487
    Timberlake, J. [5365], Malawi K000614708
    Timberlake, J. [6014], Malawi K000614817
    Timberlake, J. [6007], Malawi K000614818

    First published in Trans. Linn. Soc. London 26: 127 (1868)

    Accepted in:

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    • [3] Onana, J.M. (2011) The vascular plants of Cameroon a taxonomic checklist with IUCN assessments . National herbarium of Cameroon, Yaoundé.
    • [4] (2009) Scripta Botanica Belgica 41: 1-517
    • [5] (2008) Strelitzia 22: 1-279. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
    • [7] Akoègninou, A., van der Burg, W.J. & van der Maesen, L.J.G. (eds.) (2006) Flore Analytique du Bénin . Backhuys Publishers.
    • [8] Catarino, L., Sampaio Martins, E., Pinto-Basto, M.F. & Diniz, M.A. (2006) Plantas Vasculares e Briófitos da Guiné-Bissau . Instituto de investigação científica tropical, Instituto Português de apoio ao desenvolvimento.
    • [9] Clayton, W.D., Harman, K.T. & Williamson, H. (2006) World Grass Species - Synonymy database . The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • [10] Sita, P. & Moutsambote, J.-M. (2005) Catalogue des plantes vasculaires du Congo , ed. sept. 2005: 1-158. ORSTOM, Centre de Brazzaville.
    • [12] Germishuizen, G. & Meyer, N.L. (eds.) (2003) Plants of Southern Africa: an annotated checklist. Strelitzia 14. . National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
    • [14] Aedo, C., Tellería, M.T. & Velayos, M. (eds.) (1999) Bases Documentales para la Flora de Guinea Ecuatorial; Plantas vascularis y hongos . CSIC, real jardín Botánico, Madrid.
    • [17] (1995) Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea 7: 1-430. The National Herbarium, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia & The Department of Systematic Botany, Upps.
    • [20] Lebrun, J.P., Toutain, B., Gaston, A. & Boudet, G. (1991) Catalogue des Plantes Vasculaires du Burkina Faso . Institut d' Elevage et de Médecine Vétérinaire des Pays Tropicaux, Maisons Alfort.
    • [22] (1989) Lejeunia; Revue de Botanique , n.s., 132: 1-127
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    • [26] Boulvert, Y. (1977) Catalogue de la Flore de Centrafrique 3: 1-89. ORSTOM, Bangui.
    • [27] Peyre de Fabregues, B. & Lebrun, J.-P. (1976) Catalogue des Plantes Vascularies du Niger . Institut d' Elevage et de Médecine Vétérinaire des Pays Tropicaux, Maisons Alfort.
    • [29] (1973) Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History). Botany 4: 325-411
    • [30] Lebrun, J.P. (1973) Énumération des plantes vasculaires du Sénégal . Maisons Alfort: Institut d'élevage et de médecine vétérinaire des pays tropicaux.
    • [31] (1972) Flora of West Tropical Africa , ed. 2, 3(2): 277-574
    • [32] Lebrun, J.-P., Audru, J., Gaston, A. & Mosnier, M. (1972) Catalogue des Plantes Vasculaires du Tchad Méridional . Institut d' Elevage et de Médecine Vétérinaire des Pays Tropicaux, Maisons Alfort.
    • [34] (1971) Flora Zambesiaca 10(1): 1-152. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • [35] (1970) Flora of Tropical East Africa 1: 1-176

    Literature

    • [2] Darbyshire, I., Kordofani, M., Farag, I., Candiga, R. & Pickering, H. (eds.) (2015) The Plants of Sudan and South Sudan . Kew publishing, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • [6] Inada, T. & Hall, J.B. (2008). Oxytenanthera abyssinica (A. Rich). Munro. Record from Protabase.
    • [11] Sita, P. & Moutsambote, J.-M. (2005) Catalogue des plantes vasculaires du Congo , ed. sept. 2005: 1-158. ORSTOM, Centre de Brazzaville.
    • [13] Germishuizen, G. & Meyer, N.L. (eds.) (2003) Plants of Southern Africa: an annotated checklist. Strelitzia 14. . National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
    • [15] Aedo, C., Tellería, M.T. & Velayos, M. (eds.) (1999) Bases Documentales para la Flora de Guinea Ecuatorial; Plantas vascularis y hongos . CSIC, real jardín Botánico, Madrid.
    • [16] Chilufya, Henry and Tegnas, Bo (1996). Agroforestry Extension Manual for Northern Zambia, Technical Handbook No. 11. Regional Soil Conservation Unit (RSCU), Nairobi, Kenya.
    • [18] (1995) Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea 7: 1-430. The National Herbarium, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia & The Department of Systematic Botany, Upps.
    • [19] Burkill, H.M. (1994). The Useful Plants of West Tropical Africa. Vol. 2. Families E-I. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • [21] Lebrun, J.P., Toutain, B., Gaston, A. & Boudet, G. (1991) Catalogue des Plantes Vasculaires du Burkina Faso . Institut d' Elevage et de Médecine Vétérinaire des Pays Tropicaux, Maisons Alfort.
    • [24] Boudet, G., Lebrun, J.P. & Demange, R. (1986) Catalogue des plantes vasculaires du Mali . Etudes d'Elevage et de Médecine Vétérinaire des Pays Tropicaux.
    • [25] Mgeni, A,S.M. (1983). Bamboo wine from Oxytenanthera braunii. Indian Forester 109: 306-309.
    • [28] Peyre de Fabregues, B. & Lebrun, J.-P. (1976) Catalogue des Plantes Vascularies du Niger . Institut d' Elevage et de Médecine Vétérinaire des Pays Tropicaux, Maisons Alfort.
    • [33] Lebrun, J.-P., Audru, J., Gaston, A. & Mosnier, M. (1972) Catalogue des Plantes Vasculaires du Tchad Méridional . Institut d' Elevage et de Médecine Vétérinaire des Pays Tropicaux, Maisons Alfort.
    • [36] Berhaut, Fl. Sén. ed. 2, 388.
    • [37] Hutchinson, J. et al. (eds) (1954- ). Flora of West Tropical Africa. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London.
    • [38] in Rev. Bot. Appliq. 14: 136
    • [39] Chev. Bot. 752
    • [40] Camus, Bambus. 144
    • [41] in Trans. Linn. Soc. 26: 127 (1868)
    • [42] Louppe, D., Oteng-Amoako, A.A. & Brink, M. (eds), PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa / Ressources végétales de l’Afrique tropicale), Wageningen, Netherlands.

    Sources

    Flora of Tropical East Africa
    [A] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

    Flora of West Tropical Africa
    [B] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
    [C]

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    [D] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

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    The International Plant Names Index (2016). Published on the Internet http://www.ipni.org
    [E] © Copyright 2016 International Plant Names Index. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

    Kew Species Profiles
    Kew Species Profiles
    [F] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
    [G]

    World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
    World Checklist of Selected Plant Families(2016). Published on the Internet http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
    [H] See http://kew.org/about-kew/website-information/legal-notices/index.htm You may use data on these Terms and Conditions and on further condition that: The data is not used for commercial purposes; You may copy and retain data solely for scholarly, educational or research purposes; You may not publish our data, except for small extracts provided for illustrative purposes and duly acknowledged; You acknowledge the source of the data by the words "With the permission of the Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew" in a position which is reasonably prominent in view of your use of the data; Any other use of data or any other content from this website may only be made with our prior written agreement. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
    [I] © Copyright 2016 International Plant Names Index and World Checkist of Selected Plant Families. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0
    [J] © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checkist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

    GrassBase - The Online World Grass Flora
    http://www.kew.org/data/grasses-db.html. Clayton, W.D., Vorontsova, M.S., Harman, K.T. and Williamson, H. (2006 onwards)
    [K] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0