Sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum)
is a large, strong-growing species of grass in the genus Saccharum. Its stout stalks are rich in sucrose, a simple sugar which accumulates in the stalk internodes. It originated in New Guinea, and is now cultivated in tropical and subtropical countries worldwide for the production of sugar, ethanol and other products.
Saccharum officinarum is one of the most productive and most intensively cultivated kinds of sugarcane. It can interbreed with other sugarcane species, such as Saccharum sinense and Saccharum barberi. The major commercial cultivars are complex hybrids. About 70% of the sugar produced worldwide comes from S. officinarum
and hybrids using this species.
Sugarcane is a plant which is actually a giant grass. The stem is jointed, 3–5 m tall, 2–3 cm thick, solid juicy, the lower internodes short, swollen; sheaths greatly overlapping, the lower usually falling from the culms. Leaf blades elongate, mostly 4–6 cm wide, with a very thick midrib. The white flowers appear in plume, like panicles, 20–60 cm long, the slender racemes drooping. spikelets about 3 mm long, are obscured in a basal tuft of silky hairs 2–3 times as long as the spikelet. Cane sugar, cane syrup, molasses, wax, and rum are products of sugarcane. Fresh cane stems are often chewed, especially by poorer people. The young unexpanded inflorescence is eaten raw, steamed or toasted, and prepared in various ways.
, 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.
Portions of the stem of this and several other species of sugarcane have been used from ancient times for chewing to extract the sweet juice. It was cultivated in New Guinea about 8000 years ago for this purpose. Extraction of the juice and boiling to concentrate it was probably first done in India more than 2000 years ago. Sugar cane is an important perennial grass of Poaceae family, indigenous to tropical South Asia and Southeast Asia. Sugarcane juice is widely used in India in the treatment of jaundice, hemorrhage, dysuria, anuria, and other urinary diseases.