Beautiful Bamboo

BAMBOOFORESTOver 2.5 billion people around the world depend upon bamboo for a large part of their sustenance, making bamboo one of the most economically important plants in the world. Citizens in industrialized nations may be most familiar with bamboo as a decorative garden plant. Increasingly, however, they’re becoming familiar with its commercial uses.

What Is Bamboo?

Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants in the world. With the right soil and climate conditions, bamboo shoots can grow 48 inches in a single day. This is because there is no such thing as a bamboo tree as such. The bamboo plant is a type of grass connected to an underground network of stems called a rhizome that distributes nutrients and water very quickly to bamboo canes above the soil level. Strictly speaking, a bamboo forest is really a bamboo meadow.

There are approximately 1,400 species of bamboo, ranging from plants that are under 12 inches high to towering specimens that top 100 feet. They have an extremely unusual flowering cycle that scientists do not fully understand: All the bamboo of a single species, no matter where they are in the world, will flower at exactly the same time. The interval between flowering cycles can be as long as a century.

Human beings use bamboo as a food source, a material in household goods such as bamboo furniture, bamboo blinds and bamboo curtains, and as a source of construction materials. In traditional Japan and China, thin strands of bamboo were woven into bamboo shoes and hats. More recently, cellulose has been extracted from bamboo and used in the manufacture of rayon-like bamboo clothing.

Bamboo is one of the perennial plants most frequently incorporated into gardens in warm, tropical climates. Home horticulturalists must keep a close eye on their bamboo garden plants though, because some species of bamboo can get out of control and take over their landscape.

Where Does Bamboo Grow?

Although bamboo is most closely associated with eastern Asia, in fact it grows wild on every continent except Europe and Antarctica. Although most bamboo plants grow best in warm, tropical climates with lots of precipitation, bamboo does grow in climates where winter temperatures dip below freezing. In these environments, above-ground shoots will shrivel and die in the colder months, but the rhizome will survive and send up new plant shoots as soon as the weather becomes warmer.

The world’s three largest bamboo exporters are China, Indonesia and Vietnam. Singapore and Hong Kong are the world’s two largest commercial processors of bamboo.

Is Bamboo an Eco-Friendly Choice For My Home?

Bamboo is a woody material that grows very quickly, which makes it an eco-friendly alternative to the use of other types of woods in a world that is increasingly faced with the threat of deforestation. It takes between 30 and 50 years for a hardwood tree to grow to a size that’s suitable for commercial harvesting. In contrast, bamboo is ready for harvest between three and five years. Bamboo produces far more oxygen than a hardwood forest of a comparable size and it grows well without the use of pesticides. Bamboo can be used to prevent soil erosion and all parts of the plant are biodegradable. All these properties make bamboo an environmentally friendly plant and a great wise choice for floor coverings.

What Products Can I Buy That Are Made From Bamboo?

Many different types of products can be made from bamboo.

• Bamboo construction materials: In many parts of Asia, traditional housing was crafted either entirely from bamboo or from a bamboo frame plastered with stucco, clay or cement. Experts estimate that over one billion people live in a bamboo house of some kind.

In other parts of the world, bamboo is being engineered into building materials that resemble conventional lumber in design. These materials are available at your local lumber yard. Bamboo flooring made from these building materials is an increasingly popular alternative to hardwood floors. Bamboo is also popular as a raw material for fiberboard, particle board, bamboo sheets and other types of panels.

• Bamboo household goods and floor coverings: In China, Indonesia, India and the Philippines, individuals have been creating beautiful woven rugs, mats, baskets and other household goods from bamboo for thousands of years.

• Bamboo clothing: Bamboo fibers are separated out from bamboo pulp using various mechanical and chemical processes. The resulting cellulose fibers have the silky feel and cling of rayon. Manufacturers are even making bamboo socks although they take a long time to dry so are not advisable for traveling.

• Bamboo paper: Bamboo paper is somewhat softer and more prone to tearing than paper made from hardwoods, but its brightness and optical properties make it far less prone to fading over time.

• Decorative uses of bamboo: Bamboo makes beautiful indoor plants, and it is relatively easy to train a bamboo palm into a bonsai tree.

What Is Lucky Bamboo?

LUCKYBAMBOOLucky bamboo is not a type of bamboo at all, but a houseplant related to the lily that’s native to the rainforests of Southeast Asia. It’s an easy plant to grow, and is touted along with the use of fountains, crystals and colors, as one of a variety of Feng Shui cures that can bring balance and harmony into your home and your life.

According to Feng Shui traditions, Lucky Bamboo will invite luck into your home. The type of luck depends upon the number of stalks the plant has. Be sure to display your Lucky Bamboo in an optimal place in your home or business premises where it can do you the most good, but keep it away from your pets because it is toxic.

Bamboo has much to offer as a renewable resource. It’s strong, durable, pliable and very attractive to look at. Bamboo floor coverings can be used inside and outside, and are a perfect way of defining discrete areas for entertaining and other activities.


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