Sugarcane, perennial grass of the family Poaceae, is mainly grown for its juice from which sugar is produced. Sugarcane is grown in large quantities in subtropical and tropical areas. Sugarcane is also utilised for biofuel production, especially in Brazil. It’scanes can be used directly to produce ethyl alcohol (ethanol). The by-products from cane sugar processing, namely the straw and bagasse (cane fibres), can be used to produce cellulosic ethanol which is aa second-generation biofuel. Some of the other sugarcane products are molasses, rum, and cachaça (a Brazilian alcohol). The sugarcane plant can itself be used as thatch and as livestock fodder. Sugarcane plant is known to belong to the genus Saccharum. The term “Saccharum” has originated from the Sanskrit word 'sarkara' or 'sakkara' which refers to sugar. So far six species have been recognised in the genus Saccharum viz., S. officinarum, S. barberi, S. sinense, S. robustum, S. edule and S. spontaneum. Presently Sugarcane is not a member of Saccharumofficinarum but a Saccharuminter-specific hybrid.Some of its species are as follows:
1. Saccharumofficinarum: It is one of the most commonly known species of sugarcane. Sugarcanes belonging to this species are usually thick-stemmed, colourful, soft and juicy sweet canes. In India, this species is referred to as “Paunda cane”.
2. Saccharumsinense: This is a chinese species of sugarcane which was brought to India by the East India Company around 1796. It includes 'Pansahi', 'Nargori', and 'Mungo' groups of sugarcane.
3. Saccharumbarberi: It is most commonly used for jiggery making. It is referred to as the traditional species of sugarcane. This species derives its name from CA Barber who was indulged in detailed study of this cane.
4. Saccharumspontaneum: This species is a grass native to the Indian subcontinent. It is a polymophic species and its diveristy ranges from annual to perennial type wherein both sexual and asexual reproduction take place freely.
By: Anuja Arora