Bamboo, One Of The Most Verstile And Widely Used Plants On The Planet

Bamboo is one of the most versatile and useful plants on the planet, and it has been used by humans for thousands of years for a wide range of purposes. Here are some examples of the different ways bamboo is used and the unique properties that make it so valuable:

  • Construction: Bamboo is used in many parts of the world as a building material. It is lightweight, strong, and flexible, and it can be used to construct everything from small huts to large bridges.
  • Furniture and Household Items: Bamboo is also used to make furniture, household items, and decorative objects. It can be woven into baskets, mats, and other items, and it is often used to make flooring, paneling, and wall coverings.
  • Clothing and Textiles: Bamboo fibers can be used to create soft and comfortable fabrics that are breathable, moisture-wicking, and hypoallergenic. These fabrics can be used to make a wide range of clothing items, including shirts, pants, dresses, and socks.
  • Replacement for plastics: Bamboo is a natural, sustainable replacement for environmentally damaging single use plastics like straws, toothbrushes, and shopping bags.
  • Food: In many parts of the world, bamboo shoots are harvested and used as a vegetable in cooking. The shoots are high in fiber and contain a variety of vitamins and minerals.
  • Paper: Bamboo can also be used to make paper. The fibers from the plant are pulped and processed into sheets of paper that are strong, durable, and environmentally friendly.
  • Energy Production: Bamboo can be used as a renewable source of energy. It grows quickly and can be harvested and used to create biofuels, such as bamboo charcoal and bamboo briquettes.

One of the unique properties of bamboo is its rapid growth rate. Some species of bamboo can grow up to 91 cm (35 inches) in a single day, making it one of the fastest-growing plants on the planet. Additionally, bamboo is highly renewable and sustainable. It requires very little water to grow, and it can be harvested without killing the plant, allowing it to regenerate quickly. Finally, bamboo is a highly versatile and flexible material that can be used in a wide range of applications, making it an incredibly valuable resource for humans.

Bamboo Video

video about growing bamboo

Bamboo is regarded as the fastest growing most versatile “tree” plant in the world with some bamboo species growing one foot overnight given the right climate and soil type. Bamboo does all its growing in the wet season, which typically lasts 3 or 4 months.

Growing Bamboo For Biomass

Woody bamboo is also grown as a biomass plant to feed the ravenous appetite of electrical power generation plants that are transitioning away from coal. Bamboo is one of the fastest growing and highest yielding renewable natural resource making it a good substitute to wood in mitigating pressure on natural forests. It matures in as little as 3 to 5 years much faster than hardwood trees and sends out new shoots after each harvest. Bamboo has excellent capacity to capture carbon.

Growing bamboo for biomass is a popular use of this versatile plant, and it has several advantages over other sources of biomass, such as wood and corn. Here are some of the benefits of growing bamboo for biomass:

  • Rapid Growth: Bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants on the planet, and it can reach maturity in just a few years. This means that it can be harvested and used for biomass much more quickly than other sources of biomass, such as trees.
  • High Yields: Bamboo has a high yield of biomass per unit of land compared to many other crops. This means that it can produce more energy per acre than other crops, making it a more efficient source of biomass.
  • Low Input Requirements: Bamboo requires very little water and fertilizer to grow, making it a low-input crop. This makes it a more sustainable and environmentally friendly source of biomass than other crops, which require more resources to produce.
  • Renewable and Sustainable: Bamboo is a highly renewable and sustainable resource. It can be harvested without killing the plant, and it can regenerate quickly via root rhizomes after harvesting. This means that it can be grown and harvested continuously without depleting the soil or harming the environment.

Some of the most common types of bamboo grown for biomass include:

  • Moso Bamboo (Phyllostachys edulis): Moso bamboo is one of the most commonly used bamboo species for biomass production. It is native to China and can grow up to 20 meters (65 feet) tall.
  • Giant Bamboo (Dendrocalamus asper): Giant bamboo is a tall and fast-growing species that is native to Southeast Asia. It can reach heights of up to 30 meters (100 feet) and is widely used for biomass and construction.
  • Guadua Bamboo (Guadua angustifolia): Guadua bamboo is a large and sturdy species that is native to South America. It is widely used for construction, but it is also an excellent source of biomass due to its fast growth and high yields.
  • Black Bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra): Black bamboo is a popular ornamental species, but it can also be grown for biomass. It is a relatively fast-growing species and can reach heights of up to 12 meters (40 feet).
growing plant bamboo for biomass

As electrical power generation plants move away from burning fossil fuel coal, direct combustion bamboo biomass can be introduced as a co-generation fuel that burns cleaner with less particulates and therefore is less polluting.

Plant clear areas could be colonized by bamboo four times faster than most native plants and trees.

Bamboo Timber Works

Bamboo has a higher compressive strength than wood, brick or concrete and a tensile strength that rivals steel. Giant Bamboo is the largest member of this grass family and is used by the construction industry in Asia. It can be trained to grow into most constructive shapes including bowed rafters and parabolic arches making ideal for the rafters of a roof and covered enclaves.

flowering bamboo
bark of a mature bamboo versitle bamboo wood

Bamboo is frequently used as the vertical support component for post and beam construction. It is also used to erect scaffolding; 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 scaffolding in china

Bamboo also makes excellent posting for long runs of fencing and can last decades in ground even through seasonal monsoons. Although not as common, it is used as a mold jacket to form a variety of products from hardening resins. Because it is a relatively cheap building resource, bamboo is used as forming to set concrete and recycled after the form is stripped.

Bamboo Flooring

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

All landscape bamboo is predominately plant type bamboo offered in many varieties for both commercial and residential use. Since bamboo can take 100 years or more to flower and seed, varieties of landscape bamboo are grown from cuttings and cloned. In a plant commercial production nursery, landscape bamboo spreads via rhizomes, much like strawberries where individual plants are snipped at the root and transplanted into containers for shipment to retail nurseries. Hybridization has produced “cold tolerant” varieties called “temperate bamboo” that can survive a light frost so bamboo can be grown on the west coast of North America and in the southernmost part of the U.K.

There are many types of bamboo that are commonly used in landscaping. Here are some of the most popular types of landscape bamboo:

  • Golden Bamboo (Phyllostachys aurea): Golden bamboo is a fast-growing and hardy species that is known for its bright yellow stems. It can reach heights of up to 6 meters (20 feet) and is commonly used for privacy screens, hedges, and windbreaks.
  • Black Bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra): Black bamboo is a popular ornamental species that is known for its dark blackish-purple stems. It can grow up to 12 meters (40 feet) tall and is commonly used for accents and as a backdrop for other plants.
  • Dwarf Bamboo (Pogonatherum paniceum): Dwarf bamboo is a small and compact species that is commonly used in rock gardens and as a groundcover. It grows to a height of only 15-30 centimeters (6-12 inches) and is easy to maintain.
  • Giant Bamboo (Dendrocalamus giganteus): As the name suggests, giant bamboo is one of the largest species of bamboo, growing up to 30 meters (100 feet) tall. It is commonly used in landscaping as a specimen plant or as a focal point in large gardens.
  • Chinese Fountain Bamboo (Fargesia nitida): Chinese fountain bamboo is a clumping species that is known for its delicate and graceful appearance. It grows to a height of up to 3 meters (10 feet) and is commonly used in rock gardens and as a hedge or screen. Supply has been curtailed the last decade due to water scarcity issues in southern China.
  • Arrow Bamboo (Pseudosasa japonica): Arrow bamboo is a fast-growing and hardy species that is known for its straight and slender stems. It can grow up to 5 meters (16 feet) tall and is commonly used for privacy screens and as a windbreak.
bamboo landscaping plant

Bamboo Plantations

Because Bamboo grows so fast, it is ideal for commercial plantations. Bamboo is a perfect candidate for biomass because of its fast growth rate and potential for continuous cropping every 4 to 5 years. 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 20 inches, the higher the diameter, the more desirable and profitable the plant. Large diameters exceeding 30 inches can be achieved by adding nutrient fertilizers during the rainy season. Unlike other types of tree plantations, bamboo plantations are not a plant and forget crop and require regular thinning and fertilization.

Lucky Bamboo

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 a Belgian Evergreen or a 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 Feng Shui, a traditional Chinese practice which claims to use energy forces to harmonize individuals with their surrounding environment. It makes an ideal gift for the home, office or party gifts. A decorative indoor house plant, it 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 – simply insert the plant into a container, fill the container with rocks to support the plants, and add some clean water and you’re good to grow.

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The best time to plant bamboo was 20 years ago.
The second best time is now!