What is Bamboo?
Bamboo is actually and evergreen plant, and a member of the true grass family Phocaea. It is the fastest growing woody perennial on the planet, and some of the giant species can grow up to four feet per day! It is found on nearly every continent in the world, and has a wide range of useful applications. Bamboo products are used extensively in the modern world, and its usage has been growing rapidly in recent years. It is an easily renewable resource and its cultivation is beneficial to the environment. A bamboo grove creates 5 times more bio-material than a typical pine forest, making it beneficial to the environment. Bamboo is truly an amazing plant, and provides great benefits for our planet. There is currently over 1,000 known bamboo species, and 91 genera. The bamboo family is diverse and can grow in a wide range of climates and conditions. Bamboo can be found growing in the cold high altitude mountains of Tibet, and in the warm desert climates of sub-Saharan Africa. Sizes, shapes, colours, and behaviours of bamboo can also vary significantly. The plant can grow as short as a couple of inches, to as tall as 100 plus feet and 8 inches in diameter. Colours of bamboo canes are typically bright green, but can also be jet black, or even striped. The varying of appearances makes them an idea choice for ornamental and landscaping purposes. Bamboo is a staple of the Japanese garden and a symbol of Japanese culture. The cultural significance of Bamboo in Asian culture is profound and has been well documented in the history books. In fact, Bamboo was actually used as the writing medium in ancient Chinese literature. Scribes would write on bamboo slats, which are known in the United States as bamboo scrolls. Much of the history of China has been document this way, and without bamboo much of it may have been lost.
Bamboos are woody stemmed members of the grass family, Poeceae, which belong to the family Bambusoideae. All members of the subfamily can be distinguished from the other grasses by foliage leaf blades which are attached to their branch lets by slender leaf stalks or petioles. Other grasses like corn and sugar cane have leaves without petioles. The Culms
Like all grasses the bamboos have stems or culms which are segmented by joints called nodes. Bamboo nodes are always solid but between the nodes, the internodes of the culm are usually hollow. A group of culms growing near one another are usually connected together underground by segmented stems called rhizomes to form a single plant. The roots grow from the nodes of the rhizomes. The rhizomes serve as a storehouse of food for the bamboo plant allowing new culms to grow very rapidly. Each culm grows to its full height in a grand period of growth which usually takes no longer than 2 or 3 months. Thereafter, even though it may live for up to 10 years, the culm does not increase in height or diameter. A plant with small rhizomes can produce only small culms. Under favourable conditions the rhizomes will increase in size and produce larger culms each year until the limit for that particular species is reached. The oldest culms are thus often the smallest and the youngest the largest.
Bamboo Culms or Canes
There are two basic types of bamboos, the clampers and the runners. The culms of a clumping species grow close to one another usually no more than a foot apart. While the culms of a runner are often spaced far apart. Up to 10 ft. or more. The spacing of the culms is characteristic of each species and depends on the nature of the rhizomes. McClure first used the terms symposia and monopodia to describe c1umpers and runners. Sympodial refers to the branching habit of clumping rhizomes: each rhizome typically branches into a pair of rhizomes, each of which branches into a pair again. Monopodial refers to the running rhizome which consists of a main axis from which branches arise one at a...
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