English Name: Sugar cane
Botanical Name: saccharum officinarum
Yoruba Name: Ìrèke
Hausa Name: Ireke
Igbo Name: Osisina-atuto
DESCRIPTION: A sweet tall tropical plant with a thick stem and soft rinds. Inside the stalk is sweet juice often eaten and processed into sugar.
ORIGIN: Sugar cane is said to be indigenous to Oceania and more especially New Guinea. It is believed to have been used by Polynesians for over 500 years and spread to the nearby Solomon islands, the New Hebrides and then to New Caledonia. In the origin of mankind, two fisher man, the only people on earth, one day, found a piece of cane in their net at first thinking it was useless, they threw it away but after catching it by chance for three days, planted it in the ground. It grew and after a while it burst and a woman appeared from it. She cooked for them by day and hid by night in the cane how the man got there first wasn’t explained but according to studies this was made reference to.
It no longer exists as a wild specie first introduced to the Pacific Islands, it then reached the banks of the Industry. In 500 or 510BC thereabout, the Emperor Darius of what was then Persia invaded India where he found “the reed which gives honey without bees”. The secret of cane sugar, as with many other of man’s discoveries, was kept a closely guarded secret then the finished product was exported for a rich profit. It was the major expansion of the Arab peoples in the 17th century as that led to a breaking of the secret. When they invaded Persia in 642AD they found sugarcane being grown and learnt how sugar was made.
As their expansion continued they established sugar production in other lands that they conquered sugarcane made its way into western Europe by Alexander the Great’s armor when an admiral named Nearcus described in 326BC. The Arabs introduced it in the Mediterranean area in the 17th century crusaders later brought it to Europe at the 11th or rather 12th century and the cultivation ranged from Italy and Spain to southern France. In the 15th century AD, European sugar was refined in Venice, it was difficult to transport sugar as a food grade product. In the same century, Columbus wa said to have sailed to the Americas the “New World”. It is recorded that in 1493 he took sugarcane plants to grow in the Caribbean also grows in Nigeria but it’s widely cultivated in the northern part of Nigeria.
NATURAL BENEFITS: Sugar cane has a juicy stalk with soft rinds which is high in sugar content. It is as well loaded with minerals like Calcium, Phosphorus, Zinc and Potassium and Vitamins like A, B complex and C. Studies show that Sugarcane cures acne, prevents bad breath and tooth decay, facilitates the development of bones and teeth, Aids liver functioning it also combats cancer.
Used to make candies, cookies, cakes, scones, bread, pies etc. Eaten raw when peeled, washed and nicely cut, it can be added to juice and beverages.