Polynesian ‘ohe (Fijian: Bitu)

Schizostachyum glaucifolium (Poaceae)

Characteristics

Evergreen bamboo species, up to 15 m tall. Culm diameter 8 cm. Clump-forming. Yellow woody culms with green stripes.

Used by Polynesians to produce baskets, mats, musical instruments, fishing rods etc.

Distribution

Native to South-Central Pacific (like Fiji). Today, cultivated in the United States of America.

Natural Medical Properties

The powdered culms are mixed with water and consumed as a treatment for a sharp pain in the stomach and pain associated with profuse sweating.

The ashes of the culms, combined with powdered Cyperus javanicus and Diospyros spp., as well as the sap of green kukui fruits (Aleurites moluccana) and ripe papaya (Carica papaya), is applied topically as a treatment for festering raw sores.

Did you know?

On the French Polynesian island Mo’orea, thickets of these bamboo were likely the exclusive breeding habitat of the critically endangered Moorea reed warbler (bird). Development, overharvesting and the invasive Miconia plant have severely depleted these thickets, and the warbler is now feared extinct.

Further reading:

Literature

World Flora Online
WorldChecklist of Selected Plant Families
A working list of all plant species