What is Bamboo, and how is it used?


Bamboo is regarded as an aggressive, invasive species because it is the fastest-growing grass species on earth. Bamboo can overrun natural vegetation quickly and is very difficult to get rid of once it has taken root. You can use it for support structures for climbing plants, a food source, and even scaffolding.

What Are the Different Types of Bamboo?

There are more than 1500 species of bamboo on earth. These grasses are from the Poaceae family of flora and can present in two classes. Clumpers or Runners, each with different characteristics and a large variety of uses.

CLUMPERS

Sympodial (clumper) bamboo is from the genus Fargesia and is non-invasive with a network of short, sturdy roots and stalks. The root system sends out shoots or rhizomes which sprout a few inches apart in the ground.

These are ideal for use in your gardens as they are not as invasive as the runner varieties.

Examples such as Chinese Fountain Bamboo and Green Panda are planted and used in gardens as privacy screens and noise barriers. Slender Weavers Bamboo and Dwarf Blue Bamboo are also suitable for this function as they have enormous aesthetic appeal.

RUNNERS

Monopodial (runner) bamboo hail from the Phyllostachys genus and grows and spreads prolifically. The shallow, horizontal root system produces new culms or canes at an astounding speed during the growing season and can overrun gardens and threaten biodiversity at an incredible rate.

However, if runners are planted within appropriately fortified containers or the circumference of growth barriers, one can sufficiently prevent the rampant spread of the roots.

Runner roots are not strong enough to break through concrete, so build a concrete container to grow this Bamboo class to prevent it from taking over the garden.

Examples of runner bamboo include Phyllostachys Aurea, Golden Bamboo, and Phyllostachys Nigra, Black Bamboo.

What Can Bamboo Be Used For?

Some lovers of bamboo believe that if it can’t be done with bamboo, it’s probably better left undone. But here is a list of some things that Bamboo is routinely used for.

  • You can build houses from Bamboo.
  • Bamboo is used for road reinforcement.
  • Chinese herbal medicines utilize black bamboo.
  • Clothes are being made from Bamboo (including a new boxers range)
  • Charcoal can be made from Bamboo and used as a fuel source
  • Furniture is often made from Bamboo, especially conservatory furniture
  • Bamboo rugs are becoming popular
  • Paper can be made from Bamboo
  • Bamboo utensils are also very common

As you can see, Bamboo is a beneficial product to have. We have adapted it for many common items around the home and garden. So let’s delve a little deeper to see how Bamboo can be used.

The Construction Uses Of Bamboo

Bamboo stalks are very flexible and strong by nature and are deemed to be tougher than steel. They are also versatile in functionality and less expensive to produce and transport than steel products.

Apart from the obvious usefulness in the garden, such as support structures for beans, peas and climbers, these properties render bamboo uniquely suitable to the construction of scaffolding.

Bamboo is ideal for the manufacture of stylish flooring, durable building material, sturdy furniture, serviceable utensils, bedding, and hard-wearing fabrics. Bamboo rugs scattered on the wooden floor provide elegance and creativity to any sanctuary.

Firebreaks Made With Bamboo

The high silica content and low concentration of volatile oils inherently found in timber bamboo make this variant exceptionally suited to employ effective windbreaks or firebreaks when needed.

If it wasn’t such an invasive plant it would make the perfect grove to control wildfires due to the characteristics above.

Bamboo as Food And Medicine

  • Most bamboo species originally hail from China and Japan and are an important part of Asian cuisine. Chinese herbalists and Ayurvedic medicine utilize bamboo and its derivatives for remedial application.

Ayurvedic medicine is based on physical and mental health care maintained by Indian cultures.

  • Although pandas have the digestive capabilities of carnivores, it is a well-documented fact that these mammals from central China find their main source of nutrition from the leaves, stems and shoots of green bamboo plants. A single panda can consume as much as eighty-four pounds of vegetation in a day, depending on its size and voracity.  
  • Humans on the other hand, ingest only the new shoots from the bamboo plant. Leaves and other parts of the plant are said to be toxic to people and when eaten uncooked, produces cyanide in the digestive system. Still, bamboo contains phytochemicals that aid resistance to fungi, bacteria and viruses. These biochemical compounds are purported to have anticancer, antibacterial and antiviral properties.
  • Bamboo is also low in calories, fat and cholesterol and is a comprehensive source of dietary fiber, protein, iron, zinc and a long list of additional beneficial minerals and vitamins.   
  • As added benefits, bamboo is believed to support weight loss, to bolster and effectively activate the immune system, to improve cardiovascular- and respiratory health and to provide symptomatic relief from stomach complaints.

Some of the edible species of bamboo are Bambusa Vulgaris and Phyllostachys Edulis.

Bamboo As a Fabric

The most innovative use of bamboo can be observed in the textile industry. Manufacturers claim that fabric produced from bamboo fiber is softer than cotton and exhibit a soft, silk-like texture.

Clothing made from the cloth is lightweight, durable and equally suited to hot summers or harsh winter conditions. Additionally, it is said to be hypoallergenic and antibacterial to an extent.

Recent application of bamboo fiber in the manufacturing of diapers for children, take advantage of the ability of bamboo to absorb moisture and resist odors. However, some users have reported this very characteristic to encourage the excessive growth of microbes and bacteria when left saturated for too long.

An added disadvantage is the fact that fabric made from bamboo does not protect the user from the severe ultraviolet emissions of the sun.  

Can Bamboo devalue your property?

Although the clumping varieties of Bamboo are ok for properties they can easily be mistaken for running varities. Potential buyers of your property maybe put off from either buying or would request a discount because of the bamboo.

It is advisable not to plant bamboo in your garden if you are looking to sell your property. In some states it is even illegal to plant running Bamboo without containment stopping it from escaping the boundaries of your property.

What Impact Does Bamboo Have on the Environment?

Bamboo does not have only negative effects on the environment. In fact, the positive influences of bamboo far outweigh the negative. Let’s take a closer look at some pros:

  • Bamboo manufactures 35% more breathable oxygen than naturally growing trees do. It also expends more carbon dioxide and is biodegradable.

This basically means that bamboo has the ability to reduce pollution positively, the production of greenhouse gases, and, conversely, global warming. Additionally, bamboo can act similar to an air-cooler in the garden, lessening proximate air temperature by as much as eight degrees during the warm summer months.

  • Bamboo is regarded as a valuable, comparable substitute to wood. Whereas traditional forestry may lead to severe deforestation due to tree-felling, the cultivation of bamboo forests is less likely to cause this problem. 

On the contrary, the bamboo forests’ vast network of rhizomes stabilizes the topsoil, preventing soil erosion and other environmental damage.

  • Although regarded as more suited to a tropical or subtropical climatic region, bamboo can easily be cultivated over approximately 70% of the earth.

Most species tolerate mild to cold temperatures well and can withstand drought. Therefore, it is regarded as a reliable, renewable resource that can contribute substantially to the social and economic development of undersupplied societies.

  • Once in approximately one hundred years, every single bamboo plant of a particular species flowers and produces seeds. Although this occurrence can sap the plant of energy and subsequently cause it to die off, bamboo is generally known to have an extended lifecycle of twenty to one hundred and twenty years long.  
  • Bamboo has the unique ability to remove many noxious compounds and metals from the earth. This is achieved utilizing a process called phytoremediation, which exploits the submerged- and surface root system and leaves of a living plant to purify the surrounding air, water, and soil.
  • Bamboo is therefore ideal to use for the management of air and water pollution via the elimination of waste and sewage and chemically contaminated run-off from cultivated pastoral lands.
  • When bamboo sheds its leaves, leaf drop can be gathered and utilized as mulch or compost in the garden and is filled with much-needed nutrients.

What Does the Bamboo Plant Look Like?

Bamboo stalks can be found in various dimensions and colors, from green, gold, and white to red, dappled, and striped. They can grow anything from three to thirty meters tall and are identified by a modular or jointed stem called a culm. Most culms are hollow inside, although some species exhibit a solid interior.

Each joint is segregated from the next by a thickened node encircling the stem. Leaves and jointed branches emerge from these areas on the plant. The spaces between nodes are referred to as internodes.

Stalks are tall and of a consistent thickness for the entirety of their length. Leaves are green, long, and sharp toward the tips, medium to large in size, and of a rubbery texture.  

Does Bamboo Really Bring Good Luck?

Known as a Chinese symbol signifying strength, flexibility, and health, bamboo is often credited with having mystical properties. The Lucky Bamboo plant, in particular, is rumored to bring good fortune and blessings wherever it is grown.

According to the principles of feng shui, a Chinese system of orienting the flow of energy in the home, the Lucky Bamboo is believed to enhance the natural, positive flow of vitality. Three bamboo stalks placed in the home symbolize happiness, wealth, and long life. Spoiler alert: Lucky Bamboo is, in fact, a tropical water lily called Dracaena Sanderiana and not bamboo.

Nonetheless, if you wish to cultivate bamboo inside the home, place it in the eastern-most corner and away from direct sunlight. If you are a believer, be sure to include the five elements of earth, metal, wood, water, and fire to optimize your luck.

What is Bamboo, and how is it used?

Bamboo in itself can do more good than harm. However, gardeners wishing to incorporate it into landscaping should be knowledgeable and aware of the pitfalls and demands of this perennial evergreen grass.

Research the type of plant that will best suit your needs and cultivate accordingly.

Perform regular, thorough maintenance and stay in control. Never forget the saying: “The first year it sleeps, the second year it creeps, the third year it leaps”.

If you found value in the article, consider subscribing for future releases. You can do that below

Tony O'Neill

I am Tony O'Neill, A full-time firefighter and long term gardener. I have spent most of my life gardening. From the age of 7 until the present day at 45. My goal is to use my love and knowledge of gardening to support you and to simplify the gardening process so you are more productive

Recent Posts