Cane Brake, a term applied to the extensive growths of the arundinaria macrosperma, the most gigantic of the grasses, which occur in the southern portions of the United States, and are to be found covering vast extents of country in the alluvial bottoms of Central and South America. The plant is not unfamiliar in the temperate zones, as its stalks are much used for fishing rods. In descending the Ohio river the early voyagers met with the first indications of cane at the mouth of the Big Sandy, which forms the dividing line between Kentucky and Virginia. The cane, however, has disappeared from that region, having been destroyed by the cattle and the encroachments of civilization; but for many years after the settlement of Tennessee and Kentucky it furnished abundant food for cattle, where now it is hardly known even through tradition. Cane brakes are indicative of rich land, as they are only to be found in perfection in the most fertile soils, where, having obtained a foothold, by their more rapid growth they usurp the place of the timber. In the southern portions of the United States the plant often reaches the height of 15 and 18 ft., with a base of 1 to 1 1/2 in. diameter. In more southern latitudes it is very much larger.
It grows as straight as an arrow from the root, tapering off finally in a beautiful, thread-like, feathery top. Cane brakes are often many miles in extent, always lessening in density as they reach the high ground. They are very difficult to penetrate, and. are favorite haunts for all kinds of game, which seek their solitudes either for protection or for the leaves for food. The deer and bear are particularly fond of the -young green leaves, and upon them often become exceedingly fat. The cane stalks being hollow, having "no pith, and being divided inside every few inches into sections, are very combustible when dried in the sun; and the air confined within the hollow sections, warming by the external heat, explodes with considerable force, so that a cane brake on fire sounds like a continued roar of musketry.
Cane Brake Grass (Arundinaria macrosperma).