Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois duvre 1
Kew Bull. 53(2): 381 (1998).
Origin and geographic distribution
Valiha diffusa is endemic to Madagascar.
In Madagascar the stems are used for light construction, for making fences, and for carrying and storing water. Formerly they were used for making a traditional musical instrument, the tube zither known in Madagascar as valiha. Nowadays this instrument is made from other bamboo species with longer internodes. The split and flattened stems are woven into mats used in the construction of walls and roofs.
The shoots contain cyanide.
Bamboo with elongated, necked rhizomes; stem (culm) solitary, up to 10 m tall and up to 10 cm in diameter, woody, hollow, internodes 4060 cm long with walls 23 mm thick; young shoots pale green, with dark brown hairs; leafy branches 2030 cm long. Leaves alternate, simple; sheath up to 20 cm long and up to 21 cm wide at base, dark brown hairy when young, glabrescent; ligule consisting of long bristles; blade lanceolate to ovate-lanceolate, 58 cm ื 11.5 cm, glabrous or with scattered white or brown hairs. Inflorescence a contracted raceme-like panicle, 36 cm long. Spikelets more or less cylindrical when young, 1235 mm long, pale green, consisting of 56 glumes and 1 fertile floret; lower glume c. 9 mm ื 2 mm, 15-veined, second glume 911 mm ื 23 mm, 17-veined, other glumes 1520 mm ื 68 mm, 2327-veined, lemma 1826 mm ื 812 mm, 2941-veined, palea 1424 mm ื 48 mm, 2-keeled, grooved, with 811 veins at either side of the groove; lodicules 3, 13 mm long; floret with 6 stamens c. 15 mm long, an ovary with style c. 5 mm long and 3 stigmas. Fruit an oblong caryopsis (grain) c. 1 cm long, flattened when dry, smooth, wall papery, easily removed.
Valiha comprises 2 species, but the second species, Valiha perrieri (A.Camus) S.Dransf., has only been collected once, in northern Madagascar.
Valiha diffusa was formerly restricted to primary forest up to 700 m altitude, but it has become more widespread and now also occurs on open hills and in valleys, often together with Ravenala madagascariensis Sonn.
After harvesting the stems are split on one side and flattened, and they are woven into large panels used for walls and roofs.
Genetic resources and breeding
Valiha diffusa seems not to be threatened by genetic erosion as it is becoming more widespread in Madagascar.
Valiha diffusa is a locally useful wild source of construction material. To assess the prospects for domestication of this bamboo, more information is needed on its ecological requirements, propagation, cultivation and yield. They do not seem bright, however, because Valiha diffusa does not form clumps and does not respond well to excessive harvesting of the stems.
Bystriakova, N., Kapos, V. & Lysenko, I., 2004. Bamboo biodiversity, Africa, Madagascar and the Americas. UNEP-WCMC/INBAR. UNEP-WCMC Biodiversity Series 19. Cambridge, United Kingdom. 88 pp.
Dransfield, S., 1998. Valiha and Cathariostachys, two new bamboo genera (Gramineae Bambusoideae) from Madagascar. Kew Bulletin 53(2): 375397.
Clayton, W.D., Harman, K.T. & Williamson, H., 2002. GrassBase - the online world grass flora. [Internet] Rotal Botanic Gardens, Kew, United Kingdom.http://www.kew.org/ data/grasses-db/. Accessed October 2007.
Tan, C.L., 2006. Behavior and ecology of gentle lemurs (Genus Hapalemur). In Gould, L. & Sauther, M.L. (Editors). Lemurs: ecology and adaptation. Springer, New York, United States. pp. 369381.
Correct citation of this article:
Brink, M., 2008. Valiha diffusa S.Dransf. In: Louppe, D., Oteng-Amoako, A.A. & Brink, M. (Editors). Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois duvre 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.