JACKSONVILLE, Ala. – Jacksonville State University biology professor, Dr. Jimmy Triplett, recently discovered a new species of native bamboo in Alabama. Tallapoosa Cane, or Arundinaria alabamensis, is recognized as Alabama’s 31st endemic vascular plant and the fourth species of native bamboo in the US. His research is published in the international science journal, “Phytotaxa.”
This new bamboo species helps shed light on the history of native bamboos in the Southeastern US, including their complex ecology and genetics. Two other species, River Cane (A. gigantea) and Switch Cane (A. tecta), once formed vast bamboo forests in North America known as canebrakes and were traditionally used by indigenous peoples for a variety of tools and crafts.
Alabama is rich in biodiversity – including fish, freshwater snails and turtles – but also plants. Tallapoosa Cane is only found in Alabama, and it is the state’s fourth species of Arundinaria, ranking Alabama No. 1 in native bamboo species. Triplett’s lab at JSU studies all aspects of plant biology, but especially the use of genetics to understand diversity and evolution.
“Our native bamboos are closely related to bamboos in East Asia and highlight an interesting distribution shared with plants like magnolias, dogwoods and ginsengs, which is explained by prehistoric land bridges between continents,” Triplett said.
Triplett was also involved in the discovery of Hill Cane, Arundinaria appalachiana – also found in Alabama – and several other species of plants from around the world, including Japan, China, Sri Lanka and Ecuador. He is the curator of the JSU Herbarium, a regional natural history collection of more than 70,000 plant specimens.