Image: David Raju, India Biodiversity Portal, []

The 1001st use of bamboo?

A recent report by Kadaba Seshadri et al. documents use of bamboo as a breeding base for Indian frogs.

Image: David Raju, India Biodiversity Portal, []
Image: David Raju, India Biodiversity Portal, []
Bamboo, an extremely fast-growing, woody grass that is now established throughout the world, is so versatile that it allegedly has 1000 uses. Traditionally, such uses are numbered from the human perspective, including food (not limited to bamboo shoots, beloved of Giant Pandas – which iconic bears are so revered by humans that these endangered animals are shamelessly further exploited as the emblematic logo of the Worldwide Fund for Nature),  drink (e.g. bamboo beer),  medicine/therapy (e.g. ‘bamboo massage’),  construction (it makes a recyclable, light-weight alternative to the metal pipes and tubes commonly used as scaffolding outside of southeast Asia), paper (e.g. ‘ghost money’), textiles (not just ladies’ undergarments, such as bustles and ribs of corsets) and music (e.g. flutes). Added to that list – albeit from a non-human perspective – is the report by Kadaba Seshadri et al. that documents use of bamboo as a breeding base for Indian frogs. Chalazodes bubble-nest frog, Raorchestes chalazodes, and the Ochlandrae reed frog, R. ochlandrae, were observed to use the bamboos Ochlandra travancorica and O. setigera, respectively, in this novel reproductive behaviour in the Western Ghats (India). This unique life history involved adult frogs entering the hollow internodes of the bamboo through small openings (presumed to have been made by insects or rodents), depositing developing eggs within, and providing parental care. However, having now recognised their bamboo-dependence, a concern is that over-harvesting of the bamboo by humans outside of protected areas (for paper and pulp) threatens survival of the bamboo-nesting frog species, especially R. chalazodes, which is already known to be critically endangered in the wild. I don’t know – as if another dire warning of amphibian disease by the ‘chytrid fungus’ Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans wasn’t already enough to make these critters hopping mad!


[Ever-mischievous, P. Cuttings wonders if he’s found a 1002nd bamboo use – as biodegradable coffins for any frogs who ‘croak’ whilst engaged in babysitting duties within the bamboo… – Ed.]

Nigel Chaffey

I am a botanist and former Senior Lecturer in Botany at Bath Spa University (Bath, near Bristol, UK). As News Editor for the Annals of Botany I contributed the monthly Plant Cuttings column to that august international botanical organ - and to Botany One - for almost 10 years. I am now a freelance plant science communicator and Visiting Research Fellow at Bath Spa University. I continue to share my Cuttingsesque items - and appraisals of books with a plant focus - with a plant-curious audience. In that guise my main goal is to inform (hopefully, in an educational, and entertaining way) others about plants and plant-people interactions, and thereby improve humankind's botanical literacy. Happy to be contacted to discuss potential writing - or talking - projects and opportunities.
[ORCID: 0000-0002-4231-9082]

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