Rare bamboo fruit blossoms at Palode

The Muli bamboo (Melocanna baccifera), a rare species native to North East India and Bangladesh, has borne fruits at the sprawling campus of Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI) at Palode, near here, drawing widespread interest among scientists and ecologists.

Known to produce the largest fruits, the reed like Muli bamboo blossoms only once in 48 years and dies after fruiting. The fruits are green, apple shaped and feature a curved beak. Weighing around 300 gm, they germinate before falling to the ground.

The edible fruits attract rodents in large numbers and cause an explosion in their population, often triggering a famine.
M. baccifera
is widely used as a building material. It is also used to make mats, baskets, curios and agricultural equipment.

“The fruits are rich in amino acids, sugars and phenolics and is a nutritious food additive”, says R.Prakashkumar, Director, JNTBGRI. “Experiments at our laboratory have shown that the fruits are capable of enhancing the reproduction of rats”.

The JNTBGRI campus is home to one of the largest collection of bamboos. Spread over 17 acres, the bambusetum was established in 1987 by former scientist K.C.Koshy. It boasts of 853 accessions including 56 identified species from the Western Ghats, North Eastern states, the Andaman islands, Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore and South America.

The bambusetum is maintained as a gene bank conservatory for various bamboo species. It supplies planting material, conducts breeding trials and acts as a field laboratory for scientific observations of different species.

The institute has also produced 43 hybrids from the collection.

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