THE KINGDOM OF THIS WORLD
Canebrakes (page 14, and throughout the book)
Huge stands of bamboo were called canebrakes, and they can be found close to streams and creeks. Canebrakes vary in size, but can be 20 feet tall with shoots an inch thick. These bamboo thickets are not trees and can grow for miles. They can be found in many places, including the United States.
Giant cane (Arundinaria gigantea) is unusual in that it is a large grass
that is woody. When fresh shoots pop through the ground, they are tender
and very nutritious. Researchers say cane, which is rich in phosphorus,
calcium and crude protein, is the most nutritious native grass forage
available in the southern United States. Cattle grazing on cane show significant
weight gains and are said to produce superior milk and butter.
During the 1500s and 1600s, cane overtook untended fields, creating
enormous canebrakes. Animals that used cane flourished like never before,
because canebrakes were tall enough to protect animals from wind, rain,
snow and ice. Settlers that arrived later, in the early 1800s, encountered
these giant canebrakes because they were good places for limited livestock
grazing, and used to pasture horses, cows, and sheep.
Cane still grows in bottomland field edges and in scattered locations along streams and creeks. Small patches of cane still remain, but they are nothing compared to the large stands that once were common around the world. Today, bamboo is used for hardwood flooring in the United States, and because it must be imported from foreign lands, and is considered exotic in the U.S. market place.
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