Bamboo is the largest member of the grass family, reaching a height rivaling that of more conventional trees. However, it is more cloesly related to your lawn than to any other type of tree. Like other grasses, bamboo has nodes, the joints on the stem. Bamboo also is hollow, unlike any other healthy tree. Bamboo can grow very fast, according to some sources up to 6 feet in a day under ideal conditions. It quickly forms nearly inpenetrable thickets. Bamboo is generally found in tropical areas such as southeast Asia, although it can also be found in some cooler areas.

Bamboo is quite ecologically and economically important. In the wild, it is important habitat for many animals including the endangered Giant Panda. Humans also find bamboo very useful, for building just about anything, and even to eat. Young bamboo shoots, properly prepared, are excellent. Bamboo is also extensively used in landscaping in mild-weathered areas. If you decide to plant bamboo, do so with caution. Once it gets going, it can be almost impossible to eradicate. It might be advisable to keep your bamboo in pots or enclosed planters. In fact, bamboo and its relatives such as Arundo donax can become severe pests in areas where they are not native.

The bamboos that giant pandas like to eat are Gelidocalamus fangianus.

Some bamboo species blossom very rarely, such as the Japanese Madake, which is known to blossom only once every 120 years. In the meanwhile, bamboos reproduce asexually by creating new bamboo shoots that stem from a root of the parent. People from India to Japan eat bamboo shoots, which must be harvested while they are still young, soft, and edible. The parent bamboo feeds nutrition to its offspring via a root connection, which allows the new offspring to grow as much as 40 m (100 ft) in the first year, sometimes as fast as 121cm (4 ft) in 24 hours. This phenomenal growth can result in property damage when a bamboo shoot grows straight underneath a house or other artificial objects. After the first year, the bamboo stops growing in height and width. Even without tree rings, it is still possible to tell the age of the bamboo by counting the number of nodes on a branch, which increases in number every spring when a new node grows from where last year's leaf broke off.

Bamboos are usually classified by how far apart they grow in a grove. The ones that grow well-spread are called runners, while the tropical bamboos that grow closer together are called clumpers, and others are classified as somewhere inbetween.

Sources:
  • American Bamboo Society: http://www.americanbamboo.org/
  • Bamboo Home Page: http://www.kyoto.zaq.ne.jp/dkakd107/A.html

Bam*boo" (?), n. [Malay bambu, mambu.] Bot.

A plant of the family of grasses, and genus Bambusa, growing in tropical countries.

⇒ The most useful species is Bambusa arundinacea, which has a woody, hollow, round, straight, jointed stem, and grows to the height of forty feet and upward. The flowers grow in large panicles, from the joints of the stalk, placed three in a parcel, close to their receptacles. Old stalks grow to five or six inches in diameter, and are so hard and durable as to be used for building, and for all sorts of furniture, for water pipes, and for poles to support palanquins. The smaller stalks are used for walking sticks, flutes, etc.

© Webster 1913.


Bam*boo", v. t.

To flog with the bamboo.

© Webster 1913.

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