Name: Mitch Morris 0770946
Date: February 6, 2015
Title: Giant Cane (Arundo Donax): Giant opportunity with giant complications.
Abstract: Giant cane (Arundo Donax) is a fast growing, perennial herbaceous plant that thrives in wetlands and riparian environments. Although the origin of the plant is unclear, research suggest it is native to the Mediterranean Basin and Eastern Asia. Traditionally, giant cane was valued for its strong woody stems, capable of constructing walls for homes, baskets, basic tools, and musical instruments. Other parts of the plant were used for cooking, medicinal treatments, and making flour from the seeds. During the 1820’s, giant cane was introduced into California to mitigate erosion in the canals, and to assist in sediment control. In contrast, giant cane quickly became a nuisance because of its competitive threat to native plants. Its rapid growth, adaptability, and resource capture capacity constitutes this plant to be an invasive species. Giant cane is not easily managed, and can wreak enormous ecologic havoc on riparian ecosystems. Contemporary research has suggested for giant cane to be used as a biofuel. The ongoing effort to eradicate this plant from native ecosystems clashed with the prospective use of the crop as sustainable energy cries the need for extensive analysis. This paper will examine the modern and historical uses of giant cane, as well as the cultivation and control methods employed to manage its ecological impact on local environments and economic benefits of production.
Introduction: A brief overview of giant cane starting with the traditional East-Asian uses, progressing to its more industrial use in North America. It will concisely discuss the destructive nature of invasive species, and also the growing need for renewable energy sources. This section will provide a framework for the deliberation between giant cane’s ecological impact and economic potential.
History: In this section, a more detailed background of giant cane, such as its use by Eastern-Asian and Mediterranean cultures. Further, I will explain how it was introduced into North America for its range of unique uses.
Ecology and Botany: This section will provide a description of the plant, suitable growing conditions, unique properties, and taxonomy of the plant.
Uses: Giant cane facilitates many human uses. This section will contain subheadings including: The traditional uses of the plant to build structures, tools, and musical instruments. The modern uses of the plant as a sediment and erosion controller. Finally the potential uses as a renewable energy source.
Complications: In this section I will be bringing forth the invasive properties associated with giant cane, how it is affecting native environments, and the systems in place to manage the fast growing crop.
Summary: This conclusion will summarize the important aspects of the sections above and offer a recommendation in regard to the direction of further research and management programs.
Summary of Key Literature
1) Bell, G.P., 1997. Ecology and management of arundo donax, and approaches to riparian habitat restoration in Southern California. Plant invasions: studies from North America and Europe. 1:103-113
This paper explains the ecological benefits of removing giant cane from several canal systems in Southern California. The benefits suggested include native habitat restoration, wildfire protection, and improved water quality and quantity.
2) Schoonover, J.E., Williard, K.W.J., Zaczek, J.J., Mangun, J.C., Carver, A.D. 2006. Agricultural sediment reduction by giant cane and forest riparian buffers. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution 169(1-4):303-315
This paper discusses the use of giant cane as a sediment controller for agriculture and construction. The research in the paper suggests a reductions of sediment in the soils and ultimately our water that would normally be deposited into the lakes and rivers through