Bamboo - The Most Versatile Plant In The World
Bamboo is the most versatile plant in the world. Global investors are growing Bamboo for Bamboo flooring in the West and edible Bamboo shoots in Far East. Technically, Bamboo is classified as a “grass” but is deemed a forest product in countries where it grown and exported and like a grass, Bamboo is hollow with a perimeter casing. Giant Bamboo is the largest member of the grass family and is used by the construction industry in Asia. Bamboo is used for scaffolding in many Asian countries. It is not uncommon to see bamboo scaffolding ten stories tall. A Bamboo scaffolder is a trade in Asia much like a carpenter, electrician or plumber in the West and takes years of apprenticeship to master. Bamboo has a higher compressive strength than wood, brick or concrete and a tensile strength that rivals steel. China is the number one exporter of Bamboo.
Bamboo is also grown in Northern Australia, India and Central America. Thin stalk Bamboo is grown commercially in Southern California and Florida. Thin stalk Bamboo is cut and dried, the poles used as garden plant stakes. Bamboo can be separated into two types; woody Bamboo and plant Bamboo. Most people recognize woody Bamboo as a hollow light tan pole with intermittent ribbing. Plant Bamboos are sold by nursery centers as decorative landscape plants. In the wild, plant Bamboo is an under story plant. Woody Bamboo is considered a top story plant. An area in central China is blessed with perfect soil and the best climate. Locals call this area the “town of bamboo”, which is renowned for growing the best Bamboo in the world.
Fast Growing Bamboo
Bamboo is regarded as the fasted growing “tree” plant in the world with some bamboo species growing one foot overnight given the right climate and soil type.
Bamboo is a tropical plant that will not survive freezing temperatures. However, there are a few new breeds of Bamboo that can withstand a light frost and cooler temperatures. These new varieties are called temperate Bamboo and can be seen growing as far North as Vancouver, British Columbia. Giant Bamboo, the Bamboo most used for construction, emerges from the ground at their full diameter and grow to their full height in a single growing season. A series of rings or nodules form intermittently along the length of the Bamboo stalk. The section of Bamboo trunk between each nodule is called a clum, which slowly hardens over several seasons. Leafing and branching forms at each nodule of the first year stem the second year. A fungus indigenous to Southeast Asia penetrates each clum slowly replacing the soft pulpy cell structure of the plant with a hard shell like material. It takes about 3 to 5 years to complete this transformation at which time the Bamboo is ready to harvest. Once Bamboo hardens off it grows no further. Bamboo does all of its growing in the wet season, which typically lasts 3 or 4 months.
The use of Bamboo scaffolding was banned in China after a horrendous collapse of a 20 story structure killing 120 workers but it is still used as scaffolding in Hong Kong and the Philippines. Bamboo is a unique because it can be trained to grow into a variety of shapes including arches. Arched bamboo rafters are still used to support roofs of houses in the Philippines. In Hong Kong, Bamboo is used instead of rebar to reinforce concrete.
In Japan, scientists developed a process to laminate Bamboo strips into planks. Entrepreneurs then seized on the opportunity to create Bamboo flooring, which is in common use today. This Bamboo laminate is also becoming popular for cabinetry and furniture. A few Bamboo enthusiasts are now making clothing made from Bamboo.
Landscape Bamboo can be purchased from plant Nurseries in Australia, the United States and even a cold climate country like Great Britain. While woody Bamboo is grown from seed, landscape Bamboo is propagated by cuttings and spread via rhizomes, much like strawberries. All Bamboo produce seed, even landscape Bamboo if they live long enough. Some Bamboo species flower only once in their lifetime and that could take 100 tears or more. Since it takes so long for Bamboo to seed, most commercial nursery Bamboo is cloned.
Similar to asparagus, young Bamboo shoots can be harvested and eaten. They are usually soaked overnight and boiled added to dishes like lumpia and sayur lodeh. In China, herbalists use bamboo shoots as a treatment for impotence and infertility.
Because Bamboo grows so fast, it is ideal for commercial plantations. Bamboo is a perfect candidate for biomass because of its growth rate and potential for continuous cropping. Bamboo also sequesters carbon from the atmosphere, which makes it a good candidate for carbon credit programs. In a plantation environment, Bamboo can attain clum diameters between 10 and 30 inches, the higher diameters achieved by adding nutrient fertilizers and/or heavy watering. Unlike other types of tree plantations, Bamboo plantations are not a plant and forget crop. Once the available nutrients are used bamboo growth rates will decline so annual fertilization is important. The grove will decline if older culms are not culled so regular thinning is important as well. A bamboo grove needs ongoing management to become sufficiently productive and reach its full profit potential.
Container-grown bamboo, on average, sells for $30 each. In a quarter acre, you can grow about 2000 plants. Given the right climate, selling 2400 plants priced at $30 a piece should earn $60,000.
Lucky bamboo is not really a bamboo plant, it’s a member of the lily family that grows in the dark, tropical rainforests of South-east Asia and Africa. It is also known as Dracaena sanderiana, Dracaena braunii, Ribbon Dracaena, Belgian Evergreen or sometimes Ribbon Plant. Chinese Legend says a gift of Lucky Bamboo can bring you luck, prosperity, wealth, and happiness. It is one of the most popular cures in Fend Shue. It makes an ideal gift for the home, office or party gifts. It's is a decorative indoor house plant and can be potted either in soil, rocks, or water. It grows well at room temperature and must be kept away from direct sunlight. It makes a popular gift because it requires little care. Just insert the plant into a container, fill the container with rocks to support the plants, and add some clean water.