Thursday, 25 November 2010

Bamboo Types

There are 1,450 different species of bamboo varying greatly in size, leaf shape and other characteristics. Bamboo is an amazingly hardy plant that can survive scorching heat and frozen winters. Indigenous bamboo can be found in a wide belt from 50 degrees North in Sakhalin (just North of Hokkaido, Japan) to 47 degrees South in Chile and Argentina. Surprisingly there are no species of bamboo indigenous to Europe.

There are two types of bamboo – running (monopodial) and clumping (sympodial). Running bamboo is native to the colder parts of China, Korea and Japan. And clumping bamboos are common to hot South Asian countries. Running bamboo is so called because it sends out roots called rhizomes with joints. From each of the joints a new bamboo can grow. Thus, running bamboo can spread quickly over distances and is therefore not recommended for suburban and urban gardens where the neighbors’ boundaries are nearby. In contrast clumping bamboo is so called because each rhizome only produces a single Culm (hollow jointed stem). As a result they don’t spread as much and instead clump into thicker and thicker patches of bamboo. Thus clumping bamboo is much more commonly used for home gardening.

Here are a few types of bamboo

Bambusa Multiplex is a popular clumping bamboo that grows to about 30 feet in height and is golden with thin green stripes. The bambusa multiplex or Alphonse Karr bamboo can survive temperatures as low as 15 degrees Fahrenheit and is a good potted bamboo or a bamboo to create privacy because it clumps tightly.

Bambusa Textilis or Weaver's Bamboo is an attractive clumping bamboo that has nodding tops and leafless lower Culms. The bamboo from this variety is frequently used for hand weaving, hence the name.

Gigancochola Atter is a clumping bamboo that grows an incredible 50 feet and has wide Culms. The young edible shoots taste sweet and have purple hairs. This type of bamboo is found in Indonesia.

Perhaps the most famous type of running bamboo is ‘moso’ bamboo or Phyllostachys Edulis. It is predominately grown in Southern China in huge forests. It is the backdrop for many a Kung Fu movie scene. Moso bamboo grows in long straight Culms that are very hard. Moso bamboo is the ideal species for making flooring. All of the bamboo plant can be cut into strands, boiled and then compressed under heat to make strand woven bamboo flooring.

Finally, there is Sinobambusa Tootsik or temple bamboo. It is another running bamboo. It grows thickly as well as runs and is thus great for creating privacy for a large space. Perhaps that is the reason it can be found in many temples in China. The flowers from temple bamboo bear a passing resemblance to hemp, another great renewable resource.

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