|Ted Bodner. Southern Weed Society. www.forestryimages.org|
A. tecta (Walt.) Muhl. [38,39,48,51,77,114]
Arundo tecta Walt. [18,58,64,101]
= Arundinaria gigantea (Walt.) Muhl. subsp. tecta (Walt.) McClure [16,42,58,114]
A. gigantea (Walt.) Muhl ssp. macrosperma (Michx.) McClure [16,42,64]
= A. gigantea (Walt.) Muhl. subsp. gigantea [58,64,114]
A. gigantea subsp. gigantea (Walt.) Muhl., giant cane
A. gigantea subsp. tecta (Walt.) McClure, switch cane
The taxonomy of Arundinaria species in the United States has been confusing and poorly understood. Switchcane and giant cane are sometimes considered distinct species [8,18,38,39,46,48,51]. Plant height and the height, position of the seed heads, and rhizome structure (air canals) are sometimes used to differentiate the infrataxa of cane in the United States. However, plants often exhibit wide ranges in height growth on different sites, and flower and seed production tends to be sporadic or rare. The presence or absence of air canals in the rhizomes is another primary factor used to differentiate between subspecies; however, this criterion is also somewhat inconclusive [8,46,64]. Hughes  commented on the difficulty of cane taxonomy by saying, "it seems that the criteria used to differentiate A. gigantea from A. tecta are of questionable validity". Gilly  was 1 of the early taxonomists to suggest that only 1 species of Arundinaria was native to North America. In much of the literature, both A. gigantea and A. gigantea subsp. gigantea are called "giant cane", and A. gigantea subsp. tecta is usually referred to as "switch cane". For this review, the species in general is called cane, A. gigantea subsp. gigantea is called giant cane, and A. gigantea subsp. tecta is called switch cane.LIFE FORM:
Infrataxa: Giant cane has a distribution similar to cane in general, but does not occur in New York. Switch cane has a distribution similar to that of cane throughout the Atlantic and Southern Coastal Plains, but it does not occur in Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Texas, or West Virginia .ECOSYSTEMS :
Schafale and Weakley  describe 2 plant communities in the wet pine flatwood forests of North Carolina in which cane is a codominant: longleaf pine (Pinus palustris)/cane and loblolly pine (P. taeda)/cane. These communities are similar in composition with a sparse canopy of pines and a mid-story dominated by cane. The understory is typically a mixture of shrubs, including inkberry (Ilex glabra), creeping blueberry (Vaccinium crassifolium), wax myrtle (Morella cerifera), and blue huckleberry (Gaylussacia frondosa); and grasses, including pineland threeawn (Aristida stricta), cutover muhly (Muhlenbergia expansa), little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), and toothache grass (Ctenium aromaticum).
A cane shrubland alliance occurs on floodplains and alluvial soils in eastern Oklahoma . Common associates in this alliance include boxelder (Acer negundo), river birch (Betula nigra), smallspike false nettle (Boehmeria cylindrica), jewelweed (Impatiens capensis), northern spicebush (Lindera benzoin), and eastern poison-ivy (Toxicodendron radicans).
Kologski  describes a longleaf pine/cane community type in the Green Swamp of the North Carolina coastal plain. This type is described as a wetter pine savanna community.
In Missouri cane is a component of the swamp chestnut oak (Quercus michauxii)-Shumard's oak (Q. shumardii)- sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua)/cane mesic floodplain forest alliance .
Switch cane: Glitzenstein and others  describe a "globally rare" woodland association in South Carolina of longleaf pine-switch cane-sweetgum-bushy bluestem (Andropogon glomeratus)-hooded pitcher plant (Sarracenia minor). In this association switch cane and bushy bluestem usually comprise the majority of the plant cover, and the tree canopy cover is generally less than 10% .
A pond pine (P. serotina)/switchcane forest type occurs in the North Carolina coastal plain where the pine overstory is typically scattered and inkberry is an abundant shrub .
In addition to the plant communities discussed above, where cane is a dominant or codominant, there are a variety of other communities in which cane occurs in various levels of importance. Publications that discuss plant communities in which cane and switch may occur are listed below. The list is neither restrictive nor all inclusive.AL:
Cane―shortleaf pine (P. echinata)-hardwoods, southern red oak (Q. falcata)-mixed oak, chestnut oak (Q. prinus), loblolly pine-upland hardwoods, loblolly pine-lowland hardwoods, sweetgum-yellow-poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), and swamp tupelo (Nyssa biflora)-sweetbay (Magnolia virginiana) forest types in the Clay Hills Region of the Hilly Coastal Plain Province 
bogs in the blackgum (N. sylvatica)-yellow-poplar-azalea (Rhododendron canescens) community type in broad swales that are often bisected by ephemeral streams
scarlet oak (Q. coccinea)-flowering dogwood (Cornus florida)-sweet goldenrod (Solidago odora) community type on upland sites and along perennial stream sites
mesic slash pine (P. elliottii)-longleaf pine-deerberry (V. stamineum) vegetation type in the southern loam hills 
sweetgum-water oak (Q. nigra)-red maple (Acer rubrum) stream bottom community type
white oak (Q. alba) mesic upland community type 
hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)-American beech (Fagus grandifolia) community type in the Warrior River basin 
Cane―hydric hammocks in a wetland forest type composed of live oak (Q. virginiana), laurel oak (Q. laurifolia), cabbage palmetto (Sabal palmetto), southern red-cedar (Juniperus silicicola), sweetgum, hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana), loblolly pine, Florida elm (Ulmus americana var. floridana), and red maple 
cane often grows in association with the endangered conifer, Florida torreya (Torreya taxifolia), in the oak-gum-cypress (Taxodium spp.) or oak-pine types in the Apalachicola River basin in northern Florida 
Cane―the following communities in the Okefenokee Swamp: island hammocks in association with water oak, willow oak (Q. phellos), and hairytwig huckleberry (G. tomentosa); and moist pine barrens in association with pond pine, longleaf pine, slash pine, sweetbay, maleberry (Lyonia ligustrina), and shiny blueberry (V. myrsinites) 
Cane―in the Cat Island Swamp in the Mississippi River floodplain, cane occurs in the transition zone between swamp and mesic forest in a community that is a combination of the maple/yellow-poplar/oak complex and the hackberry (Celtis spp.)/elm/ash (Fraxinus spp.) community 
Cane―the following sites in the Mississippi River alluvial plain: thick loess sites dominated by sweetgum, basswood (Tilia spp.), water oak, yellow-poplar, cherrybark oak (Q. pagoda), elm, and bitternut hickory (Carya cordiformis); and thin loess sites dominated by American beech, blackgum, black oak (Q. velutina), sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum), and sweetgum 
cane and dwarf palmetto (Sabal minor) are primary species of the shrub layer in an old-growth forest in west-central Mississippi dominated by sweetgum and box elder 
pitcher plant (Sarracenia alata) bogs in southern Mississippi 
Cane―wet and mesic pine savannas in the Green Swamp; wet pine savannas have occasional individuals of pond pine, pond cypress (Taxodium distichum var. nutans), and swamp tupelo and mesic savannas have a tree canopy cover of longleaf pine that rarely exceeds 40% [60,89,104]
pocosin or bayland xeric shrub bog community of inkberry-southern bayberry (Morella carolinensis) and wax myrtle-swamp titi (Cyrilla racemiflora)
toothache grass-panicgrass (Dichanthelium spp.) association, a xeric grass-sedge bog community
meso-xeric pine association typified by scattered longleaf and loblolly pines and an understory dominated by inkberry and wax myrtle 
honeycup (Zenobia pulverulenta) association in shrub bogs 
mesic mixed hardwood forests on moist upland soils dominated by American beech, yellow-poplar, southern sugar maple (A. barbatum), white oak, and sweetgum
rocky bar and shore habitats adjacent to rivers and streams with a sparse shrub and herb layer; typical shrubs include hazel alder (Alnus serrulata), common buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), and yellowroot (Xanthorhiza simplicissima); silky willow (Salix sericea), black willow (S. nigra) and sedges (Carex spp.) dominate the herb layer
coastal plain levee forests on natural levee and point bar ridge deposits dominated by a mixture of bottomland hardwoods including American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis), sugarberry (Celtis laevigata), river birch, box elder, water hickory (Carya aquatica), and sweetgum
coastal plain hardwood forests on abandoned or natural levee deposits and point bar ridges dominated by laurel oak (Q. laurifolia), overcup oak (Q. lyrata), willow oak, water oak, red maple, loblolly pine, Atlantic white-cedar, and sweetgum
high pocosins typified by a dense shrub layer of fetterbush lyonia (L. lucida), swamp titi, inkberry, and laurel greenbriar (Smilax laurifolia)
pond pine woodlands, also called conifer-hardwood pocosin, where pond pine and loblolly bay (Gordonia lasianthus) are codominants in a open to nearly closed canopy 
Switch cane―the following communities in a tidewater swamp ecosystem on the Chewan River: the swamp tupelo-baldcypress (T. distichum) community, and the water tupelo (N. aquatica)-baldcypress-swamp tupelo community 
Cane―sugar maple (Acer saccharum)-white oak-mockernut hickory (Carya alba) forest association on floodplains and mesic slopes
sugar maple-boxelder forest association in stream margins and riparian corridors
river birch-American sycamore/hazel alder forest association in riparian corridors
American sycamore-boxelder forest association on wet to moist soils in floodplains
loblolly pine-sweetgum forest association in floodplains 
Cane―floodplain hardwood forest along the eastern edge of the Savannah River; overstory includes southern red oak, swamp chestnut oak, overcup oak, white oak, willow oak, laurel oak, sweetgum, red maple, and elms; understory includes dwarf palmetto 
Cane―It is 1 of the most commonly occurring herbaceous species in the headwater bottoms of the inner coastal plain. The tree layer is typically composed of red maple, sweetgum, ash, and elm. Other herbaceous associates include asplenium ladyfern (Athyrium filix-femina var. asplenioides), netted chainfern (Woodwardia areolata), and cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea) 
wetter longleaf pine flatwood sites where pond pine becomes more dominant 
Cane―in the mid-Atlantic flatwoods, cane may form dense thickets on wetter sites in the oak-hickory-pine association 
cabbage palmetto-slash pine type
Atlantic white cedar type
pond cypress type 
longleaf pine savannas 
old-growth bottomland hardwood forests dominated by sweetgum and water oak 
the following associations in coastal plain alluvial floodplains and "high elevation" floodplains of natural levees, flats and higher terraces: water oak-swamp chestnut-spruce pine (Pinus glabra) and swamp chestnut oak-southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)-American holly (Ilex opaca) 
longleaf pine-slash pine-bluestem (Schizachyrium spp. and Andropogon spp.) type 
a bottomland oak association with a loblolly pine-dominant overstory; overstory associates include Florida maple, red maple, water oak, white oak, yellow-poplar, green ash (F. pennsylvanica), and American sycamore 
the evergreen shrub swamp community of inkberry-swamp titi-honeycup 
the evergreen bay forest type of loblolly bay-pine-sweetbay-redbay (Persea borbonia) 
Switch cane―the pocosin woodland series type of pond pine-loblolly bay-redbay 
Cane is a native, perennial, evergreen grass that grows to a height of 6.6 to 32.8 feet (2-10 m). The coarse stems are round and hollow, 0.7 to 3 inches (2-7.6 cm) thick, and generally survive for about 10 years. Leaves range from 3.9 to 11.8 inches (10-30 cm) in length and from 0.8 to 1.6 inches (2-4 cm) wide. The flowers are racemes or simple panicles with several spikelets 1.6 to 2.8 inches (4-7 cm) long and 0.3 inch (8 mm) wide. The fruit is a caryopsis, 0.3 inch (8 mm) long and 0.1 inch (3 mm) wide. Cane forms an extensive system of tough, thick rhizomes [18,48,51,64,77]. Rhizomes vary in size but rarely are larger than 0.75 inch (1.9 cm) in diameter .
Flooding―Cane has high flood tolerance and is well adapted to waterlogged soils and frequently flooded sites [14,18,62].
RAUNKIAER  LIFE FORM:
Cane primarily reproduces vegetatively from rhizomes [18,62,64]. Seed is produced sporadically , and cane regeneration from seed is considered rare .
Pollination: Cane is pollinated by wind .
Breeding system: Cane is monoecious .
Seed production: Flowering and subsequent seed production in cane are sporadic, infrequent, and unpredictable [18,88,91]. Cane may flower in response to burning [49,63,88]. Hughes  reported that seedlings that establish following fire rarely develop into mature plants. Additional information on postfire seedling establishment is lacking, and more studies are needed.
Seed dispersal: Seeds fall or are shaken to the ground beneath the parent plant . Although there is evidence that some birds and small mammals will feed on cane seed , no information is available on the role of animal dissemination in seed dispersal.
Seed banking: Cohen and others  examined the seed banks in longleaf pine, slash pine, and loblolly pine stands in North Carolina. Likewise, Schneider and Sharitz  examined the seed banks in floodplain hardwood forest communities of the Savannah River in South Carolina. No evidence of a cane seed bank was found in either study.
Germination: Germination information specific to seeds of cane is limited; however, it is reported that cane seed is characterized by low viability [53,88,115]. When seed is produced, much of it may be destroyed by insect predation .
Seedling establishment/growth: Cane seedlings develop quite slowly. Observations of natural seedlings in a canebrake in North Carolina found that 3-year-old seedlings were less than 1 foot (30.5 cm) tall. Present-day cane stands rarely regenerate from seed under natural conditions .
Asexual regeneration: Cane sprouts prolifically from rhizomes, and aboveground stem regeneration is rapid following disturbance [18,53,74]. Historically, fire has been chiefly responsible for stimulating cane regeneration from sprouts . Good stand recovery will not occur if the rhizome and root systems are not healthy and vigorous and if there are not ample food reserves to support new shoots. The vigor of cane stands tends to decline over time and is especially harmed by heavy summer grazing of cattle and the rooting of wild and/or domestic swine [18,19,54,56,62,91].SITE CHARACTERISTICS:
Although cane thrives best on well-drained loams or silt loams [43,90], it grows in a variety of soil types ranging from clay to sand and has a wide tolerance of soil nutrient conditions . Soils are often poorly drained, highly acidic, and organic, peaty, or mucky [84,92,105]. On some sites, sandy surface soils overlie loamy or clayey subsoils. The heavier subsoil tends to retain moisture and nutrients during dry periods [6,40]. Cane has been observed growing on sandy soils with a mildly alkaline pH of 7.8 .
Cane is found at elevations ranging from sea level in southern floodplains to 2,000 feet (610 m) in the Appalachian Mountains. It has a broad climate tolerance and can withstand temperatures ranging from -9.4 to 106 °F (-23 to 41 °C) .SUCCESSIONAL STATUS:
Cane is fairly shade tolerant. It thrives best in the open or under light tree cover, but can persist under dense canopies of up to 80% cover [27,54,62]. The ability of cane to survive under tree cover allows it to expand readily if the trees are removed . For example, a cane stand expanded "readily" following logging of the tree overstory in blackgum and Atlantic white-cedar swamps in the Great Dismal Swamp, North Carolina .
Cane does not spread rapidly into either early or late successional forest types. It is hypothesized that cane was formerly concentrated in ecotones, between frequently disturbed areas and less disturbed forests of sugar maples, hickories, ashes, and oaks. The ecotonal vegetation may have been relatively stable, being maintained by small-scale oscillations of forest boundaries rather than long-term directional succession .SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT:
Fire regimes: Canebrakes are fire-dependent ecosystems [34,40]. Prior to European settlement, fire was the primary factor that maintained monotypic canebrakes on hundreds of thousands of acres across the mid-Atlantic and southeastern U.S. It is estimated that the historical fire frequency of canebrakes in the southeastern U.S. ranged from 2 to 8 years . The dense growth creates heavy fuel loads and makes canebrakes highly flammable [55,91]. Canebrakes on peatlands historically experienced landscape-scale fires that burned for weeks or months, creeping through swamps, smoldering in peat, and flaring up when flammable vegetation was reached or when conditions of humidity and wind reached critical thresholds . In canebrakes of bottomland hardwood ecosystems, fire intensity in the cane stands was much higher than in the adjacent hardwood forest, although the fire severity was low except during drought. Large fires only occurred after an extended drought, usually a dry fall followed by a dry spring .
Fire regimes in the various woodland and shrubland communities where cane may occur can be variable. The southern pine forests and pine savannas typically have fire return intervals of less than 10 years [68,103]. In the southeastern U.S., adiabatic thunderstorms can occur almost daily during the summer, and this region has 1 of the highest annual lightning frequencies in the world [68,75]. Although the number of lightning fires is highest from June to August, the majority of acreage burns in May and June in Florida and south Georgia, when the time between thunderstorms is longer. In the late summer, thunderstorms and associated rainfall are more frequent and humidities are higher. Historically, fires associated with dry frontal systems probably were quite large and may have burned for weeks or months, particularly in organic/peaty soil. Such fires likely spread into adjacent upland communities. The historic high fire frequency resulted in a frequent low-severity fire regime. Exceptions occurred when catastrophic events, such as hurricanes, tornados, and severe drought, were precursors to fires of much higher intensity and severity [75,103].
Pond pine pocosins burn on a 20- to 50-year cycle, but on highly productive sites, fire-return intervals of 3 to 10 years can be common. The shorter interval fires may produce a pine savanna with a grass understory. Mesic sites have a shrub layer comprised of many ericaceous evergreen shrubs that tend to burn intensely, resulting in the top-kill or death of all vegetation except pond pine. Pond pine has the ability to sprout from its base as well as along its stem and branches; thus, its aboveground stem survives higher severity fires than stems of most other pine species. This trait allows the species to dominate wet areas such as pocosins. Summer fires during severe droughts can eliminate pond pine and cane, because the underlying organic soil burns, destroying root systems .
Cane grows in hardwood communities with a wide range of fire frequencies, from the short return interval of 3 to 8 years for chestnut oak, to the moderate-return intervals of 35 years for yellow-poplar and oak-hickory communities, and the 1000+ years possible for some maple, beech, and birch communities. On bottomland hardwood sites, low-severity fires are the norm because fuel loads are generally light due to rapid decomposition on these moist, humid sites. Insect- and disease-related mortality and windthrow can result in heavy loadings of large woody fuels which, in times of drought, will support stand-replacement fires .
Evergreen bay forests of loblolly bay, sweetbay, and redbay are characterized by a stand replacement fire regime. This type now burns on about a 20- to 100-year cycle, but the historic fire frequency is not well documented . Shrub bogs are bay forests that burn every 2 to 5 decades. More frequent burning, at least once a decade, removes the shrub layer, resulting in an herb bog. If the underlying organic soils are completely consumed, both pocosins and bays will revert to marsh .
Before European settlers harvested Atlantic white-cedar, it was generally perpetuated by major disturbances, probably stand-replacing crown fires that occurred at 25 to 300 year intervals .
Embedded within pine and floodplain hardwood ecosystems are numerous other ecosystems such as depressional wetlands, including bays, lime sinks, cypress ponds and savannas, gum ponds, bay swamps, pitcher plant bogs, shrub bogs, and spring seeps. Fires in these wetland communities are typically stand-replacing. Fire return intervals can be variable: 3 to 9 years in herb bogs and shrub bogs; 20 to 30 years in gum ponds and bog swamps; 20 to 50 years in titi shrub bogs, and 20 to 150 years in many cypress ponds and bay swamps .
Wet grassland ecosystems are characterized by a presettlement fire frequency of 1 to 3 years. These ecosystems typically contain large quantities of herbaceous vegetation and are considered highly flammable. The coastal grassland landscapes are often quite extensive, a factor that aids in the propagation of an individual fire. Depending on fuel and wind speeds, fire may either bridge small to moderate-sized natural breaks, such as stream channels, or be stopped by them . Lightning-strike fires are common in coastal wetlands, and often fire from adjacent uplands can spread into the wetlands .
The following table provides fire return intervals for plant communities and ecosystems where cane is important. For further information, see the FEIS review of the dominant species listed below.
|Community or Ecosystem||Dominant Species||Fire Return Interval Range (years)|
|maple-beech||Acer-Fagus spp.||684-1,385 [15,103]|
|sugar maple||Acer saccharum||>1,000|
|sugar maple-basswood||Acer saccharum-Tilia americana||>1,000|
|sugarberry-America elm-green ash||Celtis laevigata-Ulmus americana-Fraxinus pennsylvanica||<35 to 200|
|Atlantic white-cedar||Chamaecyparis thyoides||35 to >200|
|beech-sugar maple||Fagus spp.-Acer saccharum||>1,000 |
|green ash||Fraxinus pennsylvanica||<35 to >300 [28,103]|
|shortleaf pine||Pinus echinata||2-15|
|shortleaf pine-oak||Pinus echinata-Quercus spp.||<10|
|slash pine||Pinus elliottii||3-8|
|slash pine-hardwood||Pinus elliottii-variable||<35 |
|longleaf-slash pine||Pinus palustris-P. elliottii||1-4 [68,103]|
|longleaf pine-scrub oak||Pinus palustris-Quercus spp.||6-10|
|pond pine||Pinus serotina||3-8|
|loblolly pine||Pinus taeda||3-8|
|loblolly-shortleaf pine||Pinus taeda-P. echinata||10 to <35|
|sycamore-sweetgum-American elm||Platanus occidentalis-Liquidambar styraciflua-Ulmus americana||<35 to 200|
|oak-hickory||Quercus-Carya spp.||<35 |
|oak-gum-cypress||Quercus-Nyssa-spp.-Taxodium distichum||35 to >200 |
|southeastern oak-pine||Quercus-Pinus spp.||<10|
|white oak-black oak-northern red oak||Quercus alba-Q. velutina-Q. rubra||<35|
|chestnut oak||Quercus prinus||3-8|
|black oak||Quercus velutina||<35|
|live oak||Quercus virginiana||10 to <100 |
|cabbage palmetto-slash pine||Sabal palmetto-Pinus elliottii||<10 [68,103]|
|baldcypress||Taxodium distichum var. distichum||100 to >300|
|pondcypress||Taxodium distichum var. nutans||<35 |
Cane may flower in response to burning [49,63,88]. Seedlings occasionally establish after a fire, but the seedlings rarely develop into full-sized plants .DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE:
Cane may not respond to burning if overall stand vigor is extremely poor. If cane stands of low vigor are burned, other plant species may regenerate more quickly, and the cane may never recover .
A spring prescribed burn promoted cane in a pond pine/cane community in the North Carolina coastal plain. On sites without tree cover, cane stem numbers increased 88% in the first year following the burn. On sites with pond pine tree cover, cane stem numbers increased 40% in the first year .
Fire favored switch cane in longleaf and loblolly pine communities in the South Carolina coastal plain. Prescribed burns were carried out in the winter over a 12-year period at intervals of 1, 2, 3, and 4 years. Prior to burning, the understory was predominantly shrubs, with a minor to moderate component of switch cane. Burning resulted in a general conversion of the understory from shrubs to grasses, primarily switch cane .
In the absence of fire, cane stands lose vigor, culms die, and succession by other plant species exceeds the rate of cane regeneration. In 1 study in a pond pine/cane forest in the coastal plain of North Carolina, cane stem density started to decline 10 years after a spring wildfire. From 10 to 13 years after fire, cane stem numbers declined 50%, and by year 14, there was a 65% reduction in density .
Repeated annual or semi-annual fires are detrimental to cane stands because the continuous removal of the stems and leaves depletes food reserves in the rhizomes, and new sprouts cannot be produced [7,56,106].FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS:
Prescribed fire may not help to promote the rapid spread of cane into adjacent areas. If soils are compacted, lateral penetration of roots and rhizomes is slow .
Grazing reduces the fire hazard in cane stands. In the pocosins of North Carolina, grazing reduced the total combustible material per acre by 43%. Three different fires were noticeably slowed down and/or stopped once they entered the grazed area. Although burning may be beneficial in some respects, burned cane range is particularly susceptible to grazing damage, and over-use of fresh burns must be avoided to maintain grazing values .Hilmon and Hughes  cautioned that control of wild cane fires may be "difficult or impossible" because of their speed and intensity .
Cane is easily damaged by grazing and the rooting of swine, and stands may take years to recover from damage [20,51,91]. Overgrazing is considered 1 of the major factors involved in the decrease of cane habitat in the U.S. following European settlement . Plants are most susceptible to grazing damage in the spring and summer . Continuous summer grazing can cause a decline in cane stem density and a reduction in stem height . According to a 1971 handbook, no more than 50% of the current year's growth should be grazed off in any season. It is also recommended that summer grazing be deferred for at least 90 days every 2 to 3 years. Controlled burns every 3 to 4 years can be used to maintain cane fields and improve forage value. Burned fields must be protected from grazing for the first growing season to allow the cane to recover .
Palatability/nutritional value: Where it occurs, cane is 1 of the most palatable and preferred forages by cattle, and it can comprise the bulk of the animal's diet when abundant . The crude protein, calcium, and phosphorus content of cane average higher than other native southern grasses . Digestible nutrients in cane foliage are highest in May and June and decline rapidly during the remainder of the summer and fall .
Cover value: Cane provides good cover for nesting birds, small mammals, and reptiles [5,74]. Canebrakes are critical nesting habitat for the Swainson's warbler [7,44,99]. In the South Carolina coastal plain, hooded warblers have a high nesting success rate in dense patches of cane, possibly because the nests are well protected from snake predation . Bachman's warbler historically required extensive canebrakes for nesting, and the possible extinction of this bird is probably related to the disappearance of large canebrakes [72,81]. The white-eyed vireo and Kentucky warbler are also strongly associated with cane . Cane growing in creek valleys provides desirable cover for northern bobwhite .
Canebrakes formerly supported high population densities of white-tailed deer, bison, and wild turkeys in the southeastern U.S., and provided good denning cover and escape corridors for black bear and mountain lion . Swamp rabbits utilize canebrakes for cover and browse the foliage and shoots. The rabbits appear to be restricted to canebrakes in southern Indiana and southeastern Missouri [74,98]. The disappearance of large canebrakes has been cited as a causal factor in population declines of bison, black bear, and swamp rabbit in the Southeast [7,74]. White-tailed deer forage switch cane stems only in the spring of the first year following a burn. Thereafter, the stems become too coarse and are no longer palatable . Switch cane is an important summer food of black bears in the Great Dismal Swamp in Virginia and North Carolina [22,49]. Meadow voles, southern bog lemmings, and several species of shrew are frequently associated with cane in the Great Dismal Swamp . Golden mice incorporate cane foliage into aboveground nests that are frequently supported by cane stems. American beaver consume living stems and foliage, particularly during late winter when other herbaceous vegetation is unavailable .
The southern subspecies of the timber rattlesnake is commonly referred to as the "canebrake rattlesnake" because of its affinity for cane habitats. Cottonmouths, copperheads, and pygmy rattlesnakes are also commonly found in canebrakes, presumably because of the abundance of birds and small rodents that are their prey. In a radio-telemetry study in Virginia, it was found that copperheads spent more time in small canebrakes than the adjacent lowland swamps .
At least 6 species of butterfly are considered obligate cane specialists: creole pearly eye, southern pearly eye, southern swamp skipper, cobweb little skipper, cane little skipper, and the yellow little skipper .VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES:
Cirtain and others  conducted greenhouse studies on the germination and growth of cane seedlings. Seedlings were able to survive both flooding and drought, but grew better under well-drained conditions. Although cane can be propagated by seed, seed is sporadically produced and has low viability. Therefore, artificial propagation is best achieved by vegetative means including rhizome cuttings and clump division . Transplanting stem clumps is often more successful than using individual stems . The survival of transplanted cane varies widely, and slow growth is a common problem. Care should be taken to keep transplant stock from drying out. Amendments of hardwood mulch and composted manure may help increase the success of transplantings . Because propagation of cane by digging and transplanting culms is labor intensive, cumbersome, and costly, research is being carried out to develop procedures for producing machine-plantable rhizome stock for use in canebrake restoration .OTHER USES:
1. Allen, Peter H. 1958. A tidewater swamp forest and succession after clearcutting. Durham, NC: Duke University. 48 p. Thesis. 
2. Beckett, Scott; Golden, Michael S. 1982. Forest vegetation and vascular flora of Reed Brake Research Natural Area, Alabama. Castanea. 47(4): 368-392. 
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