Survival Manual

River Cane aka Switch Cane

bamboo River Cane aka Switch Cane or Bamboo (Arundinaria gigantea) despite the scientific name (gigantea) is actually much smaller than the Bamboo that comes from Asia and is the only native bamboo in the USA. Switch Cane reaches heights of 7 to 9 feet tall and reach even 1 inch in diameter.

River Cane aka Bamboo ranges from New York to eastern Texas where it can be found along riverbanks and hardwood forest.

Although bamboo looks unappetizing and totally inedible it actually does have some good nutritional value. However, you have to know what to eat and when. You can eat the tender shoots raw, but cooking is also acceptable if you want to use it in cooked dishes. The tender shoots will always be at the tips of the bamboo stalk. Even the largest bamboo/switch cane plants will have the edible shoots although the smallest plants seem to be the best tasting. Be sure to peel off the leaves and nibble the shoot to make sure it is indeed edible and not to old and fibrous.

The seeds are also edible when boiled... However, seeds are only produced by a switch cane plant every 3 or 4 years so good luck getting enough to make a dent in your food needs.

Caution: Switch Cane is only rarely infected with ergot fungus. If the switch cane shows any purple powdery substance then discard and do not eat. Ergot poisoning can actually be deadly if you eat to much of it. Wet weather increases the likely-hood of encountering the fungus.

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