River Cane – A Versatile Plant with Many Pleasing Attributes

Posted by Tammy Sons on 14th Nov 2019

River cane or Arundinaria gigantea is an exotic looking species like bamboo that can be found throughout the southeastern and south central United States. Unlike in Asia, where there are many species of bamboo, river cane is also the only bamboo native to the U.S. Zoos use river cane for a natural-looking privacy border.

It belongs to a group of plants related to the grass family. River cane thrives when planted near lakes and ponds. It forms sizable dense bamboo forests. These forests of bamboo are referred to as canebrakes. River cane can reproduce itself very much like grass as it spreads underground roots called rhizomes.

Canebrakes are essential because they have dense roots that help to control erosion. Another vital purpose of canebrakes is that they work to absorb nitrogen fertilizer runoff preventing it from polluting streams and ponds.

River cane also creates a unique habitat for many insects and birds. Another interesting fact about river cane is that it can take a long time to flower, several decades ranging from 30 – 40 years. If the plant flowers, it may produce seeds. The flowering stems die out after the seeds mature. Stems can range from 3 – 25 feet tall. The plant generates and branches forming fanlike clusters, and it is also used in landscaping around lakes and ponds.

There are many uses for river cane. Fishers used as cane poles to fish with, and zoos use river cane for a natural-looking privacy border sr. River cane is flexible and can weave and made into baskets as well.

Native Americans used river cane for many centuries to make medicines, weapons like a blowgun, to build homes, and in household items like plates, baskets, woven mats, and to carry water. River cane was also used to make flutes.

In the 1700s and 1800s, river cane was very prevalent and could be found across ten million acres throughout the southern U.S. Much of the river cane was cleared away by European settlers' livestock. Many animals enjoy eating river cane like the southern pearly eye butterfly, swamp rabbits, warblers, canebrake rattlesnakes, and wood bison. A few species of the bird even make their homes in the canebrakes.

It's a very hearty resilient plant that can tolerate wildfire and grow back stronger.

Today it is used to construct chairs, weave baskets, and to make jewelry. It's also a popular material in potholders and trivets because river cane is naturally heat resistant.

River cane makes a decorative patio plant when added to a larger decorative pot. Be sure to water it often as with great care; this plant can live up to ten years.

There are so many fascinating facts about this plant. Zoos use river cane for a natural-looking privacy border between the animals and visitors. River cane thrives when planted near lakes and ponds. It can weave and make into baskets, and it's an exotic looking species like bamboo sr. It is a natural water-based plant as fishermen used as cane poles to fish with. It's a beautiful plant that blooms a dark green color in the spring months.