Legend has it that if you look at a bamboo stem close enough you can actually see it growing.
Although this may not be true, bamboo certainly outperforms its competitors when it comes to speed.
Bamboo is the Usain Bolt of the plant world.
The fastest growing species of bamboo is the Dendrocalamus giganteus which holds the Guinness World Record for growing 91cm (31 inches) in one 24-hour period, although 40cm (15 inches) is closer to a typical days growth.
Bamboo uses far less water to grow than its rivals and when farmed correctly, a Bamboo plant’s roots will draw water from 2 to 3 feet beneath the surface of the soil meaning that no additional irrigation is required.
Not only does this save water, but also the resources used to collect and redistribute water elsewhere are not required in the same way that plants such as cotton might need.
So less manpower, less fuel required to transport water, no plastics used for irrigation systems, and no habitats destroyed by the diversion of water.
Including the manufacturing process, cotton, on average, uses 200 litres of water for every one used by bamboo.
Bamboo plants do not need to be sprayed with pesticides to keep them healthy.
Although pests can attack, damage and disfigure an established bamboo plant, it cannot kill it and therefore poses no threat in commercially farmed bamboo.
Bamboo is often considered invasive due to its self-propagating nature but when farming bamboo this is a huge benefit.
When the bamboo is cut and harvested, the plant regrows. Bamboo is a grass and regrows in just the same way your lawn does when it’s mowed.
This self-propagation means that it doesn’t need to be replanted once harvested, so fewer resources are used than other crops.
Cotton, for example, once harvested, needs replanting and uses a huge amount of manpower and fuel for farm vehicles despite only yielding a tenth of what bamboo yield is per acre.
Once the bamboo is cut, a new leaf grows from the stem sending fuel down to the root system and it spreads and grows upwards as a new stem. The more it’s cut, the more it spreads.
Bamboo has been shown to absorb five times the amount of toxins than the equivalent amount of trees.
In addition to this, they can produce nearly 30% more oxygen.
The best time of year to harvest bamboo is typically in the dry season when the plant growth slows and the starch in the plant reduces.
Stems are cut when they are 3 to 4 years old and an established bamboo plant will survive yearly harvests for around 30 years.
What can you make with bamboo?
Bamboo is also used as a building material, commonly used as scaffolding and structural support.
The mature stem, or culm, of a bamboo plant, is incredibly strong. Bamboo is around 2-3 times harder than oak (as measured by the industry standard Janka test), has a higher tensile strength than many steel alloys and can withstand a pressure of around 52,000 psi (pounds per square inch).
Bamboo has been used for centuries in Asia as a building material and food source (you can even make wine from the bamboo sap). The oldest known bamboo was found in China and was dated 1,300 years old.
In India, where bamboo is widely used for construction materials, there are incentives and tax breaks for using bamboo as a building material.
How old can bamboo get?
Bamboo which is harvested yearly will typically grow for around 30 years before slowing or no longer producing new shoots from its root system.
In the wild, when left, some bamboo groves have been fabled to have plants which are over 100 years old in them.
Why does bamboo have rings?
The rings on a bamboo stem (or culm) are called nodes. The nodes are where new growth occurs and the node is where the leaves attach to the stem.
The sections in the culm are hollow, but the nodes are solid creating separate compartments. If you own a natural bamboo cup made from the stem, the fibrous node will be the base of your cup.
|1. Fast-growing||Bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants on Earth, with some species able to grow up to a meter per day. This rapid growth means that it can be harvested frequently without depleting the soil or requiring long periods of regrowth.|
|2. Low water requirements||Bamboo has a deep root system that allows it to thrive in environments with low water availability. This makes it a suitable crop for dry or drought-prone areas.|
|3. Low input crops||Bamboo requires minimal inputs such as pesticides and fertilizers, making it a sustainable and low-impact crop.|
|4. Carbon sequestration||Bamboo absorbs five times more carbon dioxide than a comparable stand of trees, making it an effective tool for mitigating climate change.|
|5. Soil erosion prevention||The extensive root system of bamboo helps to hold soil in place, preventing erosion.|
|6. Biodiversity||Bamboo forests provide habitat for a wide range of wildlife, including endangered species such as the giant panda.|
|7. Waste reduction||Bamboo can be used as a replacement for wood in a variety of applications, including paper production, construction, and furniture. Using bamboo instead of wood can help to reduce waste and deforestation.|
|8. Non-invasive species||Some bamboo species have the potential to become invasive, but many are non-invasive and can be grown without causing harm to local ecosystems.|
|9. Versatility||Bamboo has a wide range of uses, including food, medicine, and building materials, making it a valuable resource for communities.|
|10. Renewable resource||Bamboo is a renewable resource that can be harvested without causing permanent damage to the plant, allowing for sustainable and continuous production.|