Canebrake (Arundinaria gigantea) is the only native American bamboo. Once it grew along streams, rivers and marshes from Maryland to Florida and Texas, covering an estimated 5 million acres. Flood control and overgrazing has nearly eradicated the canebrake.

Native Americans used canebrake to make baskets, flutes, mats, and blowguns.

A Texas subspecies of canebrake is called switch cane. All the varieties are sometimes also called river cane.

Canebrake in the Northeastern US refers to something else altogether: we might call it a "thicket" elsewhere. It's a near-on impassible place where the wild roses (and their kin, the blackberries, the raspberries, and such) form a boundary line for anyone in less than full body armor.

A canebrake is, therefore, a VERY interesting place to those in the know, spanning over the varying ethnicities, social groups and species that find it tasty. At once a gathering place and a barrier, it's a place where EVERYONE knows where it is...

Cane"brake (?), n.

A thicket of canes.

Ellicott.

 

© Webster 1913.

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