Chusques (South America mountain bamboos)



Chusquea is a genus of bamboos in the family Poaceae, comprising about 120 species. It is native to central and south America, from southern Mexico, southern Chile to Argentina. The genus is sometimes known as South America mountain bamboos, and are found in upland woodlands.

Although there are about 120 species in the genus, but only a few are available to gardeners. These evergreen bamboos can be grown in woodland gardens or as ornamental plants. The thick and solid canes are filled with pith.

Chusquea culeou (Colihue cane), 6 x 2.4 m, is native to southern Chile and western Argentina. It is the most frost-tolerant, most often grown species, and is the only one that has been grown successfully on the temperate Northern Hemisphere, with successful growth as an ornamental plant in north of Scotland. The upright canes are pale olive green when young, turning darker as they age, bear clusters of short, leafy branches from the nodes. Its hairy lanceolate leaves, 8 cm long, have a spine on their end, and its flower is a whick of light brown color. The plant also produces a caryopsis fruit. The plant dies after blooming and releasing the seeds. The cane of this bamboo is solid, unlike most of the bamboosoids, which have hollow interior.

Chusquea quila is a perennial bamboo, and can be found growing in the humid temperate forests of Chile and Argentina. It grows as a dense, climbing or decumbent shrub, with solid aerial culms. It prefers wet places and does not grow above 500 metres. Very few plants can grow under this species. It is the only host that has the edible fungus 'Changle' to symbiosis. Chusquea quila can form pure stands called Quilantales.

Chusquea grows well in sun or partial shade, in fertile, moisture-retentive but well-drained soil. Propagation is by division in spring. Slugs and snails can affect the growth of Chusquea.

Chusquea culeouChusquea culeou
photo sourcehttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chusquea_culeou-culmos.JPG
authorshipLin linao
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Chusquea culeouChusquea culeou
photo sourcehttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chilean_Bamboo_Chusquea_culeou_by_pellaea.jpg
authorshipJason Hollinger
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Chusquea quilaChusquea quila
photo sourcehttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chusquea_quila-rama.JPG
authorshipLin linao
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Inflorescence of Chusquea quilaInflorescence of Chusquea quila
photo sourcehttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chusquea_quila.jpg
authorshipFranz Xaver
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Chusquea cumingiiChusquea cumingii
photo sourcehttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chusquea_cumingii_Nees_by_Pato_Novoa_-_002.jpg
authorshipPato Novoa
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Chusquea valdiviensisChusquea valdiviensis
photo sourcehttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chusquea_valdiviensis_E.Desv_(ashley_BALSAM_baz).jpg
authorshipashley BALSAM baz
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Chusquea valdiviensisChusquea valdiviensis
photo sourcehttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chusquea_valdiviensis_by_Scott_Zona_-_001.jpg
authorshipscott.zona
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