River Cane - Arundinaria
Commonly known as canes or river canes, the Arundinaria is actually a genus of bamboo that is found in the grass family. It is the only temperate bamboo species that grows in North America. Native to the eastern United States, the river cane grows in areas as far north as New Jersey to as far south as Florida, and west to Ohio and Texas. They are found along coastal plains and up to medium elevations such as in the Appalachian Mountains. They do not frequently produce seeds, but, when they do, the cane's colony generally dies off afterwards. One of the characteristics of these kinds of canes is the fan-like leaf cluster that forms on the top of new stems and which is referred to as a "top knot". River Cane is referred to as "i-hi", or "cane", in Cherokee as it is a traditional plant used for blowguns, fishing poles, chairs, baskets, pipe stems, and shining clay pots. For these purposes, the cane can be gathered at any time of year, although it is most commonly gathered in the winter months when no snakes or ticks are in the swampy habitats where the cane proliferates. The Cherokee Nation has made strives to revitalize traditional i-hi over the years as it has suffered from livestock grazing, the clearing of woodlands, and fluctuating water levels that dry out the roots. By encouraging the growth of such River Cane in landscaping projects, a touch of green can be added to swampy borders of gardens while assisting in the revitalization of this traditional plant.