sugarcane

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sugarcane, tall tropical perennials (species of Saccharum, chiefly S. officinarum) of the family Gramineae (grass family), probably cultivated in their native Asia from prehistoric times. Sugarcane somewhat resembles corn and sorghum, with a large terminal panicle and a noded stalk. In biblical times, one of the known sweetening agents in the world was honey. It was not until the Middle Ages that the "Indian honey-bearing reed" was introduced to the Middle East and became accessible to Europe, where sugar was sold from druggists' shelves as a costly medicinal or luxury. Later, sugarcane plants were introduced by Spanish and Portuguese explorers of the 15th and 16th cent. throughout the Old and New World tropics, and the large cane industry rapidly took shape. Today, sugarcane and the sugar beet (see beet), a temperate plant developed as a commercial sugar source c.1800, are the only two major economic sources of sugar. Cuba and India together produce a large percentage of the world's tropical sugar, cane sugar. Cane is harvested by cutting down the plant stalks, which are then pressed several times to extract the juice. The juice is concentrated by evaporation into dark, sticky sugar, often sold locally. Refined sugar, less nourishing as food, is obtained by precipitating out the non-sugar components. Almost pure sucrose, it is the main commercial product. Byproducts obtained from sugarcane include molasses, rum, alcohol, fuel, livestock feed, and from the stalk residue, paper and wallboard. Sugarcane is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Liliopsida, order Cyperales, family Poaceae (Gramineae).

See A. C. Barnes, The Sugar Cane (2d ed. 1973); B. Albert and A. Graves, ed., World Sugar Economy in War (1988).

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Sugarcane

The sugarcane (Saccharum officinale ) is a 12-26 ft tall (4-8 m), perennial, tropical grass (family Poaceae). The tough, semi-woody stems of sugarcane are up to 2 in (5 cm) in diameter, with leafy nodes and a moist internal pith containing 15-20% sucrose-sugar. The sugar concentration is highest just before the plant flowers, so this is when harvesting occurs. The plants are propagated by cuttings placed into the ground, but a single planting can last several harvest rotations.

Sugarcane is thought to have originated in southern Asia, where it has been cultivated for at least 3,000 years. It is believed to be a cultivated hybrid of various species of Saccharum, which are still wild plants in South and Southeast Asia. These wild progenitors include S. barbari, S. robustum, S. sinense, and S. spontaneum.

In 1999, about 48.4 million acres (19.6 million ha) of sugarcane were cultivated worldwide, and the total production was 1.41 billion tons (1.28 billion tonnes). Sugarcane is used to manufacture sucrose-sugar, and accounts for about 60% of the global supply. The sucrose is used to manufacture many secondary products, such as molasses and alcohol. It is also an

ingredient in innumerable prepared foodstuffs, such as candy, chocolate, carbonated beverages, ice cream, and other sweetened foods. The pressed remains of sugar extraction can be fed to cows and other livestock.

Bill Freedman

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Sugarcane

The sugarcane (Saccharum officinale) is a 12-26 ft tall (4-8 m), perennial, tropical grass (family Poaceae). The tough, semi-woody stems of sugarcane are up to 2 in (5 cm) in diameter, with leafy nodes and a moist internal pith containing 15-20% sucrose-sugar. The sugar concentration is highest just before the plant flowers, so this is when harvesting occurs. The plants are propagated by cuttings placed into the ground, but a single planting can last several harvest rotations.

Sugarcane is thought to have originated in southern Asia , where it has been cultivated for at least 3,000 years. It is believed to be a cultivated hybrid of various species of Saccharum, which are still wild plants in South and Southeast Asia. These wild progenitors include S. barbari, S. robustum, S. sinense, and S. spontaneum.

In 1999, about 48.4 million acres (19.6 million ha) of sugarcane were cultivated worldwide, and the total production was 1.41 billion tons (1.28 billion tonnes). Sugarcane is used to manufacture sucrose-sugar, and accounts for about 60% of the global supply. The sucrose is used to manufacture many secondary products, such as molasses and alcohol . It is also an ingredient in innumerable prepared foodstuffs, such as candy, chocolate, carbonated beverages, ice cream, and other sweetened foods. The pressed remains of sugar extraction can be fed to cows and other livestock .

Bill Freedman

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sug·ar cane (also sugarcane / ˈshoŏgərˌkān/ ) • n. a perennial tropical grass (genus Saccharum) with tall stout jointed stems from which sugar is extracted. The fibrous residue can be used as fuel, in fiberboard, and for a number of other purposes.

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sugar cane Perennial grass cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions throughout the world. The main source of sugar, most cultivated canes are Saccharum officinarum. Height: to 4.5m (15ft). Family Poaceae/Gramineae.

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sugar cane The tropical grass, Saccharum officinarum; the juice of the stems contains about 15% sucrose and provides much of the world's sugar production.

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sugar cane See SACCHARUM.