From culinary preparations to lightweight eco-friendly breathing fabrics, there are so many things that can be produced from bamboo! If you use bamboo products often, you may be wondering where these majestic plants come from.
Is bamboo a tree, a type of grass, or something entirely different?
Are there various types of bamboo, or is it a one-of-a-kind deal?
We agree that it’s very important to know more about what you use, including where it comes from – so today we would like to present to you our well-researched collection of bamboo related facts. Don’t be bamboozled and find out more about bamboo today – just keep reading!
So, what is bamboo, exactly?
Turns out it is a type of flowering plant that belongs to the family Poaceae (grasses). So in short – yes, bamboo is definitely a type of grass, not a tree, despite its impressive size and sturdiness.
There are literally hundreds of different bamboo species, with some estimates indicating the existence of almost 1500 distinct species of the plant. Bamboo plants are very versatile as they live in a variety of climates in different locations, including but not limited to Asia, Australia, North and South America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Although bamboo generally favours tropical climates, it can survive on different altitudes, sometimes adjusting to extreme weather conditions. Bamboo’s general hardiness made it one of the most cultivated plants on the planet, as it is very easy and cost-efficient to grow whilst having numerous potential uses.
Here are just a few curious bamboo facts:
- No wonder it’s hard to tell if bamboo is a grass, a tree or something in between, as turns out it can grow as a woody tall plant, or as a shorter bendy variety.
- Bamboo does flower, but the flowers are rarely seen – mostly due to the fact that bamboo plants simply don’t produce them very often. Some species develop flowers after 60-120 years of life! After all, bamboo only reaches maturity after 3-5 years of life, so it likes taking it slower than most plants.
- Even more amazing is the fact that all plants of bamboo species develop flowers at the same time, no matter where in the world and in which conditions they are located.
- There is no faster growing plant then bamboo. In 24 hours under good climate conditions it can grow up to 3 feet in height!
- Bamboo is great for the planet, as it releases 30% more oxygen into the atmosphere and absorbs more carbon dioxide compared to most other plants. Thanks to these amazing abilities, bamboo cleans the air and reduces the amount of harmful greenhouse gases!
- Bamboo is a part of many animals’ diet, panda being only one famous example. Although other species don’t rely on bamboo as heavily, animals such as mountain gorilla and Madagascar lemurs enjoy grazing on bamboo regularly.
- Bamboo doesn’t require any fertilizers to grow, as the discarded leaves provide all the nutrients needed for developing plants!
How bamboo is grown
It is no quick process though, as bamboo takes about three years to get established. Experienced bamboo farmers know that it is very important not to rush it and understand the new bamboo to help it develop. After all, bamboo grows very differently from most other plants:
- The initial bamboo plant grows a little bit but then stays the same for its entire life cycle.
- In the first spring after planting, new shoots emerge and quickly start growing – up to 4 inches every day!
- The new growth cycle usually lasts for around two months.
- In the first summer, the new cane reaches its full height and diameter – and it will never grow again.
- In its second summer, the bamboo plant becomes considerably stronger and produces larger, stronger canes.
- In the third summer, the bamboo plant is finally established. Cane production keeps growing until full maturity is reached, which may take years and even decades.
Why use bamboo?
Bamboo is truly the resource of the 21st century, as it combines numerous ethical, environmental and commercial benefits. It doesn’t need pesticides, toxic fertilizers or much water to grow, and can be planted in a variety of conditions, including damaged soil.
Bamboo helps battle deforestation. A sixty-foot tree cut for market takes 60 years to replace, while the same bamboo cut for market takes 59 days to replace, making it the most sustainable consumable resource on the planet. If harvested properly, bamboo plant remains alive, and the topsoil remains in place.
In addition, it possesses antibacterial, antifungal, anti-odour and antistatic properties, making it ideal for medicinal uses, as well as to make amazing ethical clothing items and underwear.
In conclusion, bamboo is a fascinating plant that might just be the answer to many modern resource crises! By choosing ethically sourced bamboo products, you are helping preserve the planet whilst enjoying numerous benefits of bamboo.