- Agriculture, Forestry & Soils
- Field crops, grasses, plant fibers, spices, tree crops, herbs
Coleman, Robert E. Formerly, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, Maryland.
Dean, Jack L. Formerly, Agriculture Research Southern Region, Science and Education Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Canal Point, Florida.
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Saccharum officinarum, a stout, perennial member of the grass family characterized by two-ranked leaves and a many-jointed stalk; the source of more than 50% of the world's annual sugar production. Sugarcane (also spelled sugar cane) [Fig. 1] originated in New Guinea about 8000–15,000 BC. The crop was later moved by primitive humans westward into Southeast Asia and India and eastward into Polynesia. The original sugarcanes, so-called noble canes, have 2n = 80 chromosomes, although there are some exceptions. The noble canes probably evolved from a wild ancestor, Saccharum robustum, with 2n = 60–194 chromosomes. Saccharum officinarum hybridized with wild species, especially S. spontaneum, in Asia, giving rise to new types that were variable in morphology and ecological tolerance and that extended the distribution of sugarcane into the subtropics. Two additional species, S. sinense and S. barberi, are recognized in botanical literature. See also: Chromosome; Cyperales; Grass crops; Poales; Sugar; Sugar crops
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