Bamboo is best known for its hard stems (culms)that are used in place of wood a variety of applications, including furniture,scaffolding,flutes,fence post,flooring an even bicycle frames.
Bamboo is best known for its hard stems (culms) that are used in place of wood for a variety of applications, including furniture, scaffolding, flutes, fence posts, flooring, and even bicycle frames. Bamboos also serve as decorative plants, the source of tender shoots used in Chinese cuisine, and a primary subject of many Chinese artworks. Early Chinese books were written on bamboo slats and bamboo has been used as a source of medicine since ancient times.
Bamboo, a type of grass, is the fastest growing plant in the world. Some varieties grow at a peak rate of 5 cm (2 inches) per hour; more typical rates are 10 cm per day. Thanks to the strong stems, bamboo can tower several meters; the tallest reaching about 20 meters (over 60 feet). According to recent estimates, there are 36 bamboo forests still present in China despite intensive harvesting for centuries; they cover 4-7 million hectares (11-19 million acres) making up 3-5% of China’s forests. China has an estimated 300 species of bamboos in 39 genera. India is second to China in bamboo harvest; it has larger bamboo forests, making up nearly 13% of the country’s forest area. The annual global bamboo harvest is 10 million tons, and growing.
The plant is known in China as zhu; the Chinese character (above), which has been simplified from the ancient version, essentially shows two stalks of the bamboo plant topped with leaves. The shaved young shoots, the resin (both fluid and dried), and the leaves are all of medicinal value, with slightly differing applications. In general, bamboo is considered cooling, calming, and phlegm resolving. Although many species of bamboo are used as a source of medicinal products, the main ones are Phyllostachys nigra, the black bamboo (above), which grows abundantly along the Yangzi River, and Bambusa breiflora, Bambusa tuldoides, and Bambusa texilis (shown below; it is a frequent source of the resinous product called tianzhuhuang). The leaves most frequently used in Chinese herbal medicine are collected from another plant, Lophatherum gracile, the grass bamboo, one of the smallest of the bamboo-like plants.
Published in: Gardening