Belonging to the grass family of Poaceae, the bamboo forms the most diverse group of evergreen perennial flowering plants. The giant bamboos include the most prominent family members of the grass family, with their intermodal regions present in the stem, which is generally hollow and a scattered vascular system throughout the entire branch. Till now, the origin of the word bamboo is very uncertain. Some experts believe it to come from the Portuguese or Dutch language, while others believe it originated from Kannada or Malay language. Due to the presence of a unique rhizome-dependent system, the bamboos consist of some of the world’s fastest-growing plants.
Within a 24 hours period, certain species of the bamboos can grow about 910 mm, which is equivalent to 36in height with a rate of about 40mm per hour. Due to this rapid growth and their tolerance towards the marginal lands, the bamboos are considered one of the best candidates for afforestation, climate change mitigations and carbon sequestrations. In south Asia, east Asia, and Southeast Asia, the bamboos form a notable cultural and economic significance. They are used as building materials and are also used as a food source and various other raw products. Like wood, bamboo acts like natural composite material and has a very high strength-to-weight ratio, which is very similar to timber.
Interesting facts about the bamboo tree
Apart from Europe and Antarctica, they are the naturally occurring plants – bamboos are known to be the naturally occurring plants in every continent on earth except Europe and Antarctica. These plants form their highest concentrations along with the most significant number of species in the east and southeast of Asia, including the Pacific and Indian oceans islands.
Bamboos can be found in fewer than two categories – generally, the bamboos can be divided into two categories, including clumping variety and the running type. In the running variety, they can be found out everywhere and profusely grow, but in the case of clumping variety, they grow specifically only in one place.
The bamboo trees – originally bamboos belong to the grass family, but they are also known as bamboo trees due to their very tree-like appearances.
The giant bamboo tree – the Dendrocalamus gigantenus, forms the largest bamboo species and is usually found in the tropical forests of Southeast Asia. They can grow up to as high as 50 m which is equivalent to 164ft.
The life cycle of a bamboo tree – generally, the lifespan of a bamboo tree can range between 3 to 130 years, depending upon its species. Usually, most bamboo species blossom once every 60 to 120 years, and then the flower produces a fruit called the bamboo rice, following which the bamboo forest dies. Thus the bamboo forest grows from a single bamboo but dies larger.
The bamboo forest – located in the Arashiyama town of Kyoto, Japan, forms one of the tourist sites. It has been considered one of the most beautiful groves present in the world, and the ministry of environment also listed the sagano bamboo forest in the list of the 100 most soundscapes of Japan.
Symbol of uprightness and friendship – due to the longer life span of the bamboo trees, they are considered the symbol of uprightness in China, whereas, in India, they form the symbol of friendship. They also symbolize longevity due to their strength, durability, resilience, and flexibility.
The parts of bamboo serve as the primary food source for various animals – the soft shoots and the leaves and stem of a bamboo tree form one of the primary food sources for China’s giant panda, bamboo lemurs of Madagascar with the red panda of Nepal.
They produce about 35% of the total oxygen produced by trees – the bamboo tree forms a crucial role in stabilizing the earth’s atmosphere. These plants alone give out around 35% of the total oxygen produced by the autotrophs of the planet.
The Philippine mythology, including the bamboo trees – according to the Philippine mythology, the first-ever man, Malakas and the first-ever woman, Maganda, emerged from one half from a silted bamboo stem in an island formed due to the battle between the ocean and the sky.
The four gentlemen of Chinese culture – according to Chinese culture, the bamboo, the orchid, the plum blossom and the chrysanthemum collectively form the four gentlemen representing the four different seasons.
The bamboos are also used to produce fine quality paper materials – the pulped fibers of various bamboo species, especially the Bambusa bamboos and the Dendrocalamus strictus, are used in the production of excellent quality paper materials.
They are commonly used for various instrument making. Initially, the bamboos are hollow, making them an undeniable choice as the material for producing different musical instruments. The most common tool made out of these bamboo is the flutes.
Bamboo forms the building materials – just like authentic wood, the bamboo are composite material in nature with a very high strength to weight ratio, which is very useful for structures. Thus, the bamboo can also be used as building materials for several bridges, houses, and scaffoldings. The compressive strength of bamboo is higher than that of brick, wood, and concrete and has a very high tensile strength than rival steel.
The formation of ulanzi – during the rainy season, the sap of the young stalks are tapped and then fermented to either make Alanis, a sweet wine, or to make various soft drinks.
Bamboo plays an integral role in Chinese cuisines – generally, the Chinese cuisines include various parts of the bamboo tree. The seeds of certain plant species are consumed as a grain, whereas the young shoots are cooked and consumed as a form of vegetable.
The long history of bamboo plants in Asian furniture – the bamboo trees have a very long account in Asian furniture. The Chinese bamboo furniture is of a very distinct and unique style, usually based upon millennia-long traditions. Due to their high hardness level, the bamboos are also used in the floorings.
The bamboos consist of the world’s fastest-growing plants – the bamboo plants include certain species that can grow about 91cm, equivalent to about 3ft within a 24 hours period with a growth rate of about 4cm in an hour.
The growth of bamboo species depends upon the climate. There are certain species of bamboo plants that can grow in diverse environments ranging from cool mountainous regions to hot tropical regions and highland cloud forests. But a significant part of the bamboo species can only grow in warm temperate and warm and moist tropical climates.
The bamboo plants are considered an excellent material for clothing manufacturers – due to specific naturally occurring antibacterial properties in the bamboo fibers. The bamboo plants serve as an ideal material for the production of clothes. In an experiment conducted, the bamboo and cotton were taken and tested to see how much percentage of bacteria they could kill over 24 hours. While the cotton did not kill any bacteria, the bamboo killed nearly the entire percentage of the bacteria present.
The Asian culture includes the bamboo plant – according to various Asian cultures, it is believed that humanity emerged from the stem of a bamboo plant.
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