Flowering and floral biological studies in Erianthus Michx.
The significance of the knowledge of flowering and floral biology in taxonomy and breeding of improved varieties has been emphasized. A brief review of the published work on flowering and floral characters in Saccharum has been given. While characterizing 201 active collections of Erianthus germplasm, floral biological studies were also conducted in selected representative clones of Erianthus species. In sugarcane improvement programmes, Erianthus is being increasingly used because it is a useful source for desirable traits such as high biomass, drought tolerance and resistance to pest and diseases. Information on monthwise flowering of clones in five species of Erianthus at a farm in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu for two years was recorded. Appearance and colour of panicle were specific to species. Days taken from panicle appearance to tip emergence, tip emergence to full opening and to start of anthesis, and the duration of anthesis have been recorded. Anthesis time was generally either early in the morning (as in E. procerus), or in the evening (E. bengalense and E. ravennae) or both (as in E. arundinaceus and E. elephantinus). The size of pollen grains were not uniform. The stigma became receptive after anther dehiscence. On selfing, only E. procerus and E. bengalense set seeds. Under open pollination, all five species gave seed set. The floral measurements indicating taxonomic differences among the five species have also been recorded.