Bamboos at TBGRI

Bamboos at TBGRI
Koshy, K.C.2010

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Review by Marco Roos in Blumea (57): 195.2012

Blumea (57): 195. 2012

Koshy KC. 2010. Bamboos at TBGRI. Tropical Botanic Garden 
and Research Institute, Kerala, India. 104 pp. ISBN: 978-819-
2009-80-3 (Pb). Price: USD 30.

Bamboos are a notorious group for herbarium taxonomists 
because of their size. The need for living material to map the 
diversity and to be able to make sound species hypotheses, 
usually hampers progress in revision work. It is most helpful if 
botanic gardens built up well-documented collections of living 
plants accompanied by voucher specimens. This very useful 
book provides an excellent example of such an initiative. Apart 
from giving a detailed overview of the specimens and taxa 
present, it also goes into general notions how this collection 
was built up. I think this will be a valuable overview for people 
interested in this impressive group of plants.

Marco Roos

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Schmid· TAXON 60 (1):310.2011(Reviews and notices)

Schmid· Reviews and notices TAXON 60 (1):310.2011

Koshy,K.C. Dec. 2010. Bamboos at TBGRI. Tropical Botanic
Garden and Research Institute, Thiruvananthapuram (www.tbgri
.in). 104 pp., ill. (most col.), col. ep. photos, 276 x 200 mm, ISBN
9788192009803 PB, Rs 800.00 India, US$30.00 foreign. - With
foreword by A. Subramoniam, 3 chaps. (establishing a living coil.;
bamboo resources at TBGRI; sustainable use, future), biblio., acronyms,
glossary, index. Coil. details, other info for 15 gen., 68
spp., 1 var., 12 hybrids. A well-done account w/ excellent photos.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Bangladesh Journal of Plant Taxonomy18(2):209-10.2011

Bangladesh Journal of Plant Taxonomy18(2):209-10.2011-                                            Book review

BAMBOOS AT TBGRI: By K. C. Koshy. Published by the Director, Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute, Palode, Thiruvananthapuram 695562, Kerala, India in 2010, Price USD 30(postage free); pp. 104.

This book is a contribution to the documentation of germplasm collection and ex-situ conservation of tropical bamboos. The book contains 104 pages and three chapters.

Chapter 1 deals with TBGRI Bambusetum and major bambuseta of China and India. This chapter provides the historical development of TBGRI Bambusetum with an index map showing contour lines. Notes on the contribution of pioneer scientists who contributed towards the establishment and development of this bamboo garden and dignitaries who visited the Bambuseturn are a special feature of the first chapter. Section on "Advantages of a bambusetum"included in chapter 1 is of good academic interest.

Chapter 2 is the important part and main contents of the book. It includes systematic documentation of live collections of 68 species and one variety under 15 genera, and 12 hybrids produced at TBGRI. The species under each genus are arranged alphabetically. Each species entry includes the Latin name with important citations, a brief description, distributions, records of live collections, locations in the bambusetum with accession numbers. It also records the details of propagules used for planting, their provenances and different hereditary lines conserved. Besides,it provides notes on herbarium collections and spirit materials and notes on flowering where available. Colour photographs of most of the species described, is an important feature of the book that will help all professionals in identifying a living bamboo.

Chapter 3, a brief 2-page chapter with four photographs discusses the future prospects of bamboo breeding.

The identification of bamboos involves more problems than any other group of flowering plants,because most of the bamboos flower once in their life time and die soon after. Flowering of bamboos usually takes place at long intervals (30-120 years). So, identification of bamboos base don floral characters is not always possible. Descriptions based on vegetative characters are also not always complete. Because of identification problem interest in bamboo research is also less among biologists compared to research in other groups. Live collections can help in getting the flowering material that will ultimately help authentic identification and supplying materials for breeding programs. There are bamboo plantations around many organizations, in many home gardens through this sub-continent and in many forest departments' plantations. But systematic information on origin of planting materials, provenances and planting dates are lacking, which are very much needed for methodical research works. TBGRI has taken this novel task of this systematic effort of germplasm collection and conservation. Only who has pursued work on bamboo biology knows how painstaking it is! Dr. K. C. Koshy's efforts in documenting the collections at TBGRI are praise worthy. It will give us a clear picture of flowering and seeding cycles of many bamboo species; genetic diversity among many species and their biology. These collections will also help bamboo taxonomists in documenting vegetative characters along with flowering characters that will make a clear picture of species description. I firmly believe, this book will be good help to taxonomists, breeders, horticulturists and conservation biologists.

There remain some shortcomings in every work. This book also has some shortcomings that need to be mentioned. Use of acronym of an organization in the title of the book could be avoided.TBGRI may not be known to every reader. So, through cross reference one may not know 'what is it or where it is'? It would be clearer if the author had used the full name of the organization and acronym in parenthesis. The map of TBGRI Bambusetum with contour lines and index for accessions is an important feature of the book. But font used in printing accession numbers is too small to be visible in naked eye or by a reading glass. It needs a magnifying glass to read the letters. The map pages also do not open flat and is difficult to read the writings within the fold.

The author could further split Chapter 2. So many entries under a species have made the presentation clumsy. One chapter could be with taxonomic descriptions, geographical distribution and flowering notes. Another chapter could include the accessions of live collections, collection locality, provenances and other information. A key for identification of species based on vegetative characters would make it more users friendly. An auricle of the culm sheath is a good diagnostic character. The author could use it in making botanical descriptions of species.Vernacular names sometimes help general users in tentative identification of a species. The author could cite vernacular names for the species where available.

However, the author is to be congratulated for his painstaking works in collecting and centralizing bamboos from various parts of India and making this documentation as a milestone for future bamboo biologists and conservationists. The book printed in good quality glossy paper with nice cover and good photographs looks smart. I wish its wide circulation.

M. Khairul Alam

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Links to Book Reviews

Book Reviews of BAMBOOS AT TBGRI appeared in 17 Journals,13  may be found in the following links:

1. Gardens' Bulletin Singapore   62(2):337-338.2011
2. Botanical Journal of the Linnaen Society 167:131.2011
3. Kew Bulletin  66:195-196.2011
4.Economic Botany 65(4): 430. 2011
5. Plant Science Bullletin 57(3): 121 2011
6.Plant  Diversity and Resources 33(4):375. 2011
7.Bangladesh Journal of Plant Taxonomy 18(2):209-210.2011
8. Nelumbo 52:156.2010
9. Current Science-Indian Academy of Sciences 100(5):770.2011
10.Rheedea 20(2):76.2010
11. NON-WOOD NEWS No.23, 68.2011 
12.Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas 5(1):320.2011
13.Blumea 57:195. 2012

14. Hornbill Jan-March 31.2011 
15Phytotaxonomy 11:36.2011
16Indian Forester 137 (9):1137.2011 
17. TAXON 60 (1):310.2011(Reviews and notices)

Monday, 16 January 2012

Economic Botany, 65(4):430. 2011

Economic Botany, 65(4), 2011, p. 430.
© 2011, by The New York Botanical Garden Press, Bronx, NY 10458-5126 U.S.A.

Bamboos at TBGRI [Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute]. Koshy, K. C. 2010. Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute, Palode, Thiruvananthapuram 695562 Kerala, India; bamboo.htm. 104 pp. (paperback). Rs 800.00; USD 30.00. ISBN 978-81-920098-0-3.

This is a combined catalog and guide to one of Indias largest collections of living bamboos. TBGI (Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute) is located in the very south of India in the foothills of the Western Ghats in the state of Kerala. The Bambusetum (a living bamboo collection) is now about 25-years-old and flourishing under the guidance of Dr. K.C. Koshy. Two groups of giant tropical monocotyledonspalms and bamboosare economically important but do not lend themselves to traditional herbarium collections. They are massive and often are identified by features of habit that cannot be documented in a dried pressed specimen. For ethnobotanical study and for understanding their biology and reproduction, living collections are priceless. Moreover, many bamboos have long and irregular flowering cycles. It is difficult to compare vegetative samples with flowering samples of a plant that flowers only once after many years of growth. The 68 species in 15 genera originate mainly from South India and Himalayan areas but also include many Asian species. Species are referenced in an index to scientific names and synonyms. In addition, there are 12 hybrids that were produced at TBGRI by the author and still under selection.

The historical development of the collection, the personalities involved in its establishment, methods of propagation, and its management are documented. The collection was built upon both cuttings from older gardens and newer propagules from field collecting trips by TBGRI throughout the Western Ghats and the regions of northern India. A detailed two-page planting map is presented, although the extreme reduction in size limits usefulness for locating accessions and canopy trees within the 6.6 hectares (16 Acres). The bulk of the book (67 pages) and the most useful part is the listing of taxa with nomenclature, accession details, location of herbarium vouchers, and often descriptions of habit, flowers, and flowering notes. The book is well illustrated with some 131 color images: including habit, flowers and fruit. The color is well printed on glossy paper.

The book will be of greatest use to a visitor of the collection in Kerala. However, any person interested in bamboos will find this a valuable resource for what is available at this major Indian bambusetum. Illustrations of bamboo habits and reproductive details will interest the bamboo enthusiast. The attractive cover images make it plant catalog with coffee table appeal.


Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Plant Science Bulletin 57(3):121.2011

Plant Science Bulletin 57(3): 121.2011
Bamboos at TBGRI.
Koshy, K.C.2010. ISBN 978-81-920098-0-3 (paperback) 104 pp. Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute, Palode, Kerala, India.

This is a wonderful book on a developing bambusetum, a living collection of bamboo species. The site is part of the Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (TBGRI) in Kerala, India, in the foothills of the Ghat Mountains in the country’s southwest. The Garden was founded in 1979 and the bambusetum in 1987. It is the latter’s founder, K.C. Koshy, who is the book’s author, and his passion for the collection comes through in his description of its development. He began with a small plot of about 2 acres with a handful of species. Over the years, the area has grown to 16 acres with 68 species and 12 hybrids. The growth was thanks to over 900 accessions.

Koshy tells the story of the project in a straightforward fashion, discussing the obstacles encountered and the successes achieved. He notes the advantages of a bambusetum: the accessibility of a collection for scientific study including the flowering cycle, the availability of material for farmers or foresters, and the possibility of studying the other species which form communities with bamboo. He also describes bamboo-collecting expeditions and their fruits.

Among other notes on these plants, Koshy makes clear the major hurdle to studying bamboos: they flower very rarely, and in many cases only once in a life cycle. Since the vegetative forms of many species look very similar to each other, it was difficult for Koshy to even know how many species he had, particularly at the early stages of the project. In addition, such infrequent flowering makes it not easy to create hybrids, though his team has managed to produce twelve, which are all listed here.

Also included are short discussions about the roles a number of botanists played in developing the collection. There is even a short section on the VIPs who have visited the bambusetum, including Ghillian Prance, then Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.

Following this introductory material, Koshy then presents the heart of the book, an annotated list of the bamboos species at TBGRI. Many of the descriptions, which include information both on the living plants and herbarium specimens, are accompanied by photographs. There are data here on when the plants were accessioned, on flowering if known, and statistics on length of internodes and the size of leaves. These descriptions are brief and are presented more as lists than narratives.However, they would be useful to those studying bamboos and having some knowledge of the family.

After this section, which takes up about three quarters of the book, there is information about the TBGRI’s bamboo museum and about its nursery. The book ends with a discussion of future plans as well as a list of references, and finally an index to bamboo scientific names.

This 104-page paperback is beautifully produced with many photographs, including a number of full-page ones showing close-ups of particular species as well as views of the TBGRI. The volume was obviously a labor of love for Koshy and for the Garden. It is not a general introduction to bamboos, but it would be a shame if it were missed by someone seeking to learn more about these plants. The introductory material as well as the explanations of how hybrids were developed provide excellent general descriptions. The detailed information on each species would be interesting to an expert, and in the years ahead it will serve as documentation for what this bambusetum held at a particular moment in its history.

-Maura Flannery, Department of Biology, St. John’s University