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tall tropical perennials (species of Saccharum, chiefly S. officinarum) of the family Poaceae (grassgrass,
any plant of the family Poaceae (formerly Gramineae), an important and widely distributed group of vascular plants, having an extraordinary range of adaptation. Numbering approximately 600 genera and 9,000 species, the grasses form the climax vegetation (see ecology) in
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 family), probably cultivated in their native Asia from prehistoric times. Sugarcane somewhat resembles corn and sorghum, with a large terminal panicle and a noded stalk. In biblical times, one of the known sweetening agents in the world was honey. It was not until the Middle Ages that the "Indian honey-bearing reed" was introduced to the Middle East and became accessible to Europe, where sugar was sold from druggists' shelves as a costly medicinal or luxury. Later, sugarcane plants were introduced by Spanish and Portuguese explorers of the 15th and 16th cent. throughout the Old and New World tropics, and the large cane industry rapidly took shape. Today, sugarcane and the sugar beet (see beetbeet,
biennial or annual root vegetable of the family Chenopodiaceae (goosefoot family). The beet (Beta vulgaris) has been cultivated since pre-Christian times. Among its numerous varieties are the red, or garden, beet, the sugar beet, Swiss chard, and several types of
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), a temperate plant developed as a commercial sugar source c.1800, are the only two major economic sources of sugarsugar,
compound of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen belonging to a class of substances called carbohydrates. Sugars fall into three groups: the monosaccharides, disaccharides, and trisaccharides. The monosaccharides are the simple sugars; they include fructose and glucose.
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. Cuba and India together produce a large percentage of the world's tropical sugar, cane sugar. Cane is harvested by cutting down the plant stalks, which are then pressed several times to extract the juice. The juice is concentrated by evaporation into dark, sticky sugar, often sold locally. Refined sugar, less nourishing as food, is obtained by precipitating out the non-sugar components. Almost pure sucrosesucrose
, commonest of the sugars, a white, crystalline solid disaccharide (see carbohydrate) with a sweet taste, melting and decomposing at 186°C; to form caramel. It is known commonly as cane sugar, beet sugar, or maple sugar, depending upon its natural source.
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, it is the main commercial product. Byproducts obtained from sugarcane include molassesmolasses,
sugar byproduct, the brownish liquid residue left after heat crystallization of sucrose (commercial sugar) in the process of refining. Molasses contains chiefly the uncrystallizable sugars as well as some remnant sucrose.
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, rumrum,
spirituous liquor made from fermented sugarcane products. Prepared by fermentation, distillation, and aging, it is made from the molasses and foam that rise to the top of boiled sugarcane juice.
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, alcohol, fuel, livestock feed, and from the stalk residue, paper and wallboard. Sugarcane is classified in the division MagnoliophytaMagnoliophyta
, division of the plant kingdom consisting of those organisms commonly called the flowering plants, or angiosperms. The angiosperms have leaves, stems, and roots, and vascular, or conducting, tissue (xylem and phloem).
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, class Liliopsida, order Cyperales, family Poaceae (Gramineae).


See A. C. Barnes, The Sugar Cane (2d ed. 1973); B. Albert and A. Graves, ed., World Sugar Economy in War (1988).


Saccharum officinarum. A stout, perennial grass plant characterized by two-ranked leaves, and a many-jointed stalk with a terminal inflorescence in the form of a silky panicle; the source of more than 50% of the world's annual sugar production.
References in periodicals archive ?
The meeting reviewed in detail problems faced by sugarcane growers and provision of subsidy to mill owners by provincial government.
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