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Valiha diffusa S.Dransf.

Protologue
Kew Bull. 53(2): 381 (1998).
Family
Poaceae (Gramineae)
Origin and geographic distribution
Valiha diffusa is endemic to Madagascar.
Uses
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.
Properties
The shoots contain cyanide.
Botany
Bamboo with elongated, necked rhizomes; stem (culm) solitary, up to 10 m tall and up to 10 cm in diameter, woody, hollow, internodes 40–60 cm long with walls 2–3 mm thick; young shoots pale green, with dark brown hairs; leafy branches 20–30 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, 5–8 cm ื 1–1.5 cm, glabrous or with scattered white or brown hairs. Inflorescence a contracted raceme-like panicle, 3–6 cm long. Spikelets more or less cylindrical when young, 12–35 mm long, pale green, consisting of 5–6 glumes and 1 fertile floret; lower glume c. 9 mm ื 2 mm, 15-veined, second glume 9–11 mm ื 2–3 mm, 17-veined, other glumes 15–20 mm ื 6–8 mm, 23–27-veined, lemma 18–26 mm ื 8–12 mm, 29–41-veined, palea 14–24 mm ื 4–8 mm, 2-keeled, grooved, with 8–11 veins at either side of the groove; lodicules 3, 1–3 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.
Ecology
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.
Management
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.
Prospects
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.
Major references
• 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): 375–397.
Other references
• 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. 369–381.
Author(s)
• M. Brink
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands


Editors
• D. Louppe
CIRAD, D้partement Environnements et Soci้t้s, Cirad es-dir, Campus international de Baillarguet, TA C-DIR / B (Bโt. C, Bur. 113), 34398 Montpellier Cedex 5, France
• A.A. Oteng-Amoako
Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG), University P.O. Box 63, KNUST, Kumasi, Ghana
• M. Brink
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
General editors
• R.H.M.J. Lemmens
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
• L.P.A. Oyen
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
• J.R. Cobbinah
Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG), University P.O. Box 63, KNUST, Kumasi, Ghana

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 d’œuvre 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.