A canebrake or canebreak is a thicket of any of a variety of Arundinaria grasses: A. gigantea, A. tecta and A. appalachiana. As a bamboo, these giant grasses grow in thickets up to 24 ft tall. A. gigantea is generally found in stream valleys and ravines throughout the southeastern US. A. tecta is a smaller stature species found on the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plains. Finally, A. appalachiana is found in more upland areas at the southern end of the Appalachian mountains.
Canebrakes were formerly widespread in the Southern United States but have been widely replaced by agriculture. Concomitant with this destruction have been challenges to the survival of the Florida panther (Puma concolor subsp. coryi) and Bachman's warbler (Vermivora bachmanii), the latter of which is critically endangered and may in fact be extinct. Other species considered canebrake specialists include several butterfly species, and Swainson's warbler (Limnothlypis swainsonii). Swainson's warbler has recently been found to use pine plantations (widespread across the Southeastern United States) of a particular age, as they may provide the structural features and prey base that the species seeks.
Canes can reproduce asexually and rapidly, an adaptation that allows them to persist quietly in the shade of a forest for years and rapidly take advantage of disturbance which disrupts the overstory, such as blowdowns, floods or hurricanes. When released in this way, canes can quickly reoccupy these gaps.
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