Bamboo is an incredibly interesting and useful plant. While it is native to southern and eastern Asia, it has spread throughout the world, including South Florida. In wild areas where it is non-native, it’s extremely invasive; however, when grown in a controlled situation, it can be quite an asset.
Many Sarasota and Tampa area homeowners have found bamboo to be a useful part of their landscaping – versatile and beautiful, it can provide natural barriers and fill in empty parts of your property. However, it can also be very fast growing and can quickly take over. Therefore, most homeowners use bamboo to stake trees and add structure, because of its incredible strength.
Learn more about bamboo with these 7 fun facts.
- Bamboo is actually a grass. That’s right, it’s closely related to the turf you have on your lawn! It does not have bark or outer vascular tissue the way that other plants (such as trees, shrubs, and herbs) do. Don’t feel silly if you have called it a tree in the past though; many people confuse it because of how bamboo forests grow throughout Asia.
- These forests can be huge. Bamboo is able to grow to 8-10 inches in diameter–the width of a decently-sized tree–and spreads quickly through rhizomes and shoots. Over 10 million acres of the continent of Asia are covered with bamboo forests, and bamboo can live to be over 120 years old.
- It can tolerate a wide range of environments. The plant can grow throughout most of the United States, and particularly thrives in the South from Virginia to here in South Florida, and west to Texas.
- It is extremely fast-growing. Researchers have recorded some variants growing up to 3 feet in a single 24-hour period. Throughout most of the world, you can expect to witness bamboo grow about 1.5 to 2 feet in a day. “Watching grass grow” can actually be an interesting prospect in this case. Not only does it grow quickly, it also grows tall. The tallest species has been found to reach heights of over 1000 feet.
- Ii is eco-friendly. Because the grass is able to grow so quickly, a stand of bamboo can produce the same amount of biomass in three to five years as a stand of pine trees can in 15 to 20 years. The grass thrives without the need for additional fertilizer or soil amendments. Bamboo is also great at quickly producing a large amount of oxygen as it grows, which further helps reduce the carbon footprint of using it. In fact, bamboo produces approximately 35% more oxygen than forests of trees at the same size. The rhizome structure holds soil well, making it (along with most other grass species) a great way to prevent erosion.
- It is extremely strong. Most people would probably think that metal out-competes plants in terms of strength…but think again. Bamboo is much stronger than steel in terms of the amount of weight it can tolerate relative to its own mass. It’s been used worldwide in building bridges and reinforcing materials like concrete.
- The plant is essential in ancient cultures. For thousands of years, bamboo has been used in Asian folk medicine to prevent infections due to its naturally antibacterial properties.