Hickelia madagascariensis (PROTA)

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Plant Resources of Tropical Africa
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Hickelia madagascariensis A.Camus

Protologue: Compt. Rend. Hebd. Séances Acad. Sci. 179: 480 (1924).
Family: Poaceae (Gramineae)

Origin and geographic distribution

Hickelia madagascariensis is endemic to the central highland of Madagascar, in the provinces Fianarantsoa, Antananarivo and Tamatave.


Hickelia madagascariensis is used for wickerwork, such as basket-making.

Production and international trade

Hickelia madagascariensis is only used and traded locally.


Scrambling bamboo, distance between stems 15–40 cm; lower part of stem erect, upper part and branches pendulous or scrambling over nearby vegetation, about 10–15 m long, with a diameter up to 18 mm with 4 mm thick walls, internodes 25–40 cm long, purplish green to pale green when young, becoming dull green with age, usually glabrous, pale hairy below nodes, nodes slightly swollen; branches many at each node, leafy branches 20–40 cm long, bearing up to 21 leaves. Leaves on stem alternate; sheath c. 23 cm × 5 cm, narrower towards the tip, only about 7 mm wide at junction with blade, purplish green, with scattered, brown, erect hairs; auricle absent; ligule c. 1 mm long, fringed or deeply toothed; blade erect at first, later spreading, up to 14 cm long, tapering towards the tip, purplish green when young, glabrous; leaves on branches with usually glabrous sheath and blade 8–14 cm × 0.5–1.5 cm, tapering to a fine tip, glabrous or with white scattered hairs below. Inflorescence a panicle 2–5 cm long, terminal on a leafy branch, consisting of few to many spikelets, each branch of the inflorescence subtended by a sheath or bract and with a prophyll at the base; axes hairy; prophylls 2-keeled, symmetrical, or split. Spikelets c. 20 mm long, with 4–5 transitional glumes and 1 fertile floret; lower 2–3 glumes papery, 8–10 mm long, hairy along the margins, with 13–21 veins, upper 2 glumes 10–12 mm long, leathery, shiny; lemma c. 15 mm long, leathery, hairy along the margin, shiny after fertilization; palea c. 15 mm long, leathery, shiny after fertilization; lodicules 3; stamens 6; ovary oblong, usually pubescent in the upper part, with 3 stigmas. Fruit an ovoid caryopsis c. 8 mm long with basal embryo.

Flowering or fruiting plants have seldom been found: flowering plants were collected in 1992, plants bearing fruits but no flowers were collected in 1932.

Hickelia forms part of the Bambusoideae. It comprises 4 species, of which 3 occur in Madagascar and 1 (Hickelia africana S.Dransf.) is endemic to the southern part of the Iringa Region in Tanzania. Hickelia africana is closely related to Hickelia madagascariensis and strongly resembles it. It is endemic to an area of only c. 1000 km² and seems under threat of genetic erosion, but is not listed in the IUCN Red list. Its slender stems are used as straws to drink bamboo beer made from Oxytenanthera abyssinica (A.Rich.) Munro from containers made from another bamboo, Sinarundinaria alpina (K.Schum.) C.S.Chao & Renvoize.


Hickelia madagascariensis occurs in humid and subhumid forest in the central highland at 1000–1600 m altitude. It grows in numerous forest pockets and is also found scattered in wasteland or small areas of woodlands in gullies or valleys.


Hickelia madagascariensis has not been taken into cultivation and there are no reports that it is managed in natural stands.

Genetic resources

Hickelia madagascariensis is fairly widespread and seems only occasionally harvested for use. There are no indications that it is in danger of genetic erosion.


Hickelia madagascariensis is likely to remain of limited local use, as well-tested cultivated alternatives are available.

Major references

  • Bystriakova, N., Kapos, V. & Lysenko, I., 2004. Bamboo biodiversity, Africa, Madagascar and the Americas. UNEP-WCMC/INBAR. UNEP-WCMC Biodiversity Series 19. Cambridge, United Kingdom. 88 pp.
  • Camus, A., 1924. Hickelia et Pseudocoix, genres nouveaux de Bambusées malgaches. Bulletin de la Société Botanique de France 71: 899–906.
  • Dransfield, S., 1994. The genus Hickelia (Gramineae: Bambusoideae). Kew Bulletin 49(3): 429–443.
  • Ohrnberger, D., 1999. The bamboos of the World. Elsevier, Amsterdam. 585 pp.

Other references

  • Lovett, J.C., undated. Notes on moist forest bamboos and bambusoid grasses in eastern Tanzania. [Internet] http://celp.org.uk/ webpages/projects/ecology/EA%20natural%20history/pdf/ NOTES%20ON%20MOIST%20FOREST%20BAMBOOS.pdf. May 2011.
  • Quattrocchi, U., 2006. CRC world dictionary of grasses: common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. 3 volumes. CRC, Taylor & Francis, Boca Raton, Florida, United States. 2383 pp.


  • L.P.A. Oyen, PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article

Oyen, L.P.A., 2011. Hickelia madagascariensis A.Camus. [Internet] Record from PROTA4U. Brink, M. & Achigan-Dako, E.G. (Editors). PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa / Ressources végétales de l’Afrique tropicale), Wageningen, Netherlands. <http://www.prota4u.org/search.asp>.

Accessed 4 March 2020.