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Sugarcane

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  • Botanical: Saccharum officinarum
  • Family: Poaceae
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Sugarcane

Botanical

Saccharum officinarum

Family

Poaceae

Known as

Zuckerrohr, cane beetle, cane grub

Old Use

medical, culinary, industry

Parts Used

roots

Aroma

sweet

Medicinal

abdominal pain, antiseptic, arthritis, bronchitis, boils, bronchitis, burns, cancer, colds, coughs, diarrhea, fever, sore throat, wounds

Hormone & Sexual Organs

vaginitis

Infection & Inflammation

eye inflammation, fever, infections, mouth sores

Respiratory System

bronchitis, colds, cough, difficulty breathing, whooping cough

Stomach & Intestinal

abdominal pain, cancer, cancer prevention, diarrhea

Properties

antiseptic, diuretic, stomachic

Description

S. officinarum, a perennial plant, grows in clumps consisting of a number of strong unbranched stems. A network of rhizomes 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 5 m (16 ft) 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 30 to 60 cm (12 to 24 in) and width of 5 cm (2.0 in). The terminal inflorescence is a panicle up to 60 cm (24 in) long, a pinkish plume that is broadest at the base and tapering towards the top. The spikelets are borne on side branches and are about 3 mm (0.12 in) 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.

Properties & Uses

Reported to be antidote, antiseptic, antivinous, bactericide, cardiotonic, demulcent, diuretic, intoxicant, laxative, pectoral, piscicide, refrigerant, and stomachic. It is a folk remedy for arthritis, bedsores, boils, cancer, colds, cough, diarrhea, dysentery, eyes, fever, hiccups, inflammation, laryngitis, opacity, penis, skin, sores, sore throat, spleen, tumors, and wounds. Powdered sugar is used as a 'drawing' agent for granulations and "proud flesh" and, in a 1:3 solution in water, for gonorrhea and vaginal discharges. The pulped sugar cane is used to dress wounds, and the cane for splints for broken bones; the Malay women use it in childbirth. A decoction of the root of the race of 'tebu lanjong' is used for whooping cough; and the cane juice is given for catarrh. It is used in elephant medicine; the juice is used to 'make an elephant sagacious', and in a poultice for sprains. In India, the plant as well as its juices are used for abdominal tumors.

Other use

Cane sugar, cane syrup, molasses, wax, and rum are products of sugarcane. Molasses is used as a sweetener, in industrial alcohol, for explosives, synthetic rubber, and in combustion engines. Fresh cane stems are often chewed, especially by poorer people. Sugar is used as a preservative for fruits and meats; cane is also made into a liqueur. The young unexpanded inflorescence of 'tebu telur' is eaten raw, steamed or toasted, and prepared in various ways. Refuse cane (bagasse) is used in the manufacture of paper, cardboard, and fuel. The reeds are made into pens, mats, screens, and thatch. Sugar is a common adjunct to unpleasant medicines. Some races are considered magical and are used ceremoniously. The saw edge of the sugar cane leaf is used to scar the skin, in preparation of tatooing. A mixture of bagasse and molasses (Molascuit) is used as cattle feed. The ground and dried cane (after juice has been expressed) makes an excellent mulch and can be baled and shipped economically, because of its light weight.

 

Cautions

The plant contains hydrocyanic acid. Sugarcane is a known teratogen; and is known to stimulate somatic mutations (aneuploidy and polyploidy) in plants. Molasses, fed alone, or in large amounts with other feed, may produce diarrhea, colic, kidney irritation, urticaria, exanthema, leminitis, malanders, profuse sweating and paralysis, in domestic stock. Horses seem to be very susceptible, and 1.25 kg daily for 3 weeks, has proved fatal in some; unrefined sugar, also toxic to the horse, may prove lethal. Twenty to fifty percent of unrefined sugar added to oat produces skin swelling, weakness in the hind quarters, paralysis of the urinary bladder, weakness of the heart, and sometimes, death.

Distribution

It is one of the canoe plants of Ancient Hawai'i,brought by Polynesian settlers in their canoes sailing forth. Sugarcane originated in the South Pacific Islands and New Guinea and it is found throughout the tropics and subtropics. In the United States it is cultivated from Florida to Texas. Sugarcane is cultivated as far as north as Spain and as far south as South Africa.

Constituents

Per 100 g, the inflorescence is reported to contain 25 calories, 91.0 g water, 4.6 g protein, 0.4 g fat, 3.0 g total carbohydrate, 1.0 g ash, 40 mg Ca, 80 mg P, 2.0 mg Fe, 0 mg b-carotene equivalent, 0.08 mg thiamine, 50 mg ascorbic acid. Per 100 g, the leaf is reported to contain 75 calories, 77.5 g water, 1.8 g protein, 0.8 g fat, 17.7 g total carbohydrate, 3.0 g fiber, 2.0 g ash; the stem, per 100 g, is reported to contain 62 calories, 82.5 g water, 0.6 g protein, 0.1 g fat, 16.5 g total carbohydrate, 3.1 g fiber, 0.3 g ash, 8 mg Ca, 6 mg P, 1.4 mg Fe, 0 mg b-carotene, 0.02 mg thiamine, 0.01 mg riboflavin, 0.10 mg niacin, 3 mg ascorbic acid. Per 100 g, the hay is reported to contain, on a zero-moisture basis, 2.6 g protein, 1.2 g fat, 92.1 g total carbohydrate, 43.1 g fiber, 4.1 g ash, 3600 mg Ca.

For educational purposes only This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.