Bamboo is indeed an amazing plant. If you haven’t read our first post in this series, Bamboo Plant Facts - the Wonderful Plant it is, do go back and read it! You will discover many interesting facts about what it is and how it grows.
Bamboo is very easy to grow, and can grow in such a wide variety of climates and soil conditions. This is one reason why it is used for so many purposes. Bamboo can be used for much more than any other natural material can.
Highly Sustainable Material
Bamboo can grow from a mass of roots called rhizome, reproducing itself from this level. The roots of the bamboo plant are very strong. They develop over time into a wide root system where many plants exist together with the bamboo. The bamboo plants there provide stability to the soil so that they can grow, in addition to preventing erosion. Bamboo can also grow from seeds that come from the ends of the bamboo’s branches. With how fast it grows and these two sources of new shoots, bamboo is the most prolific of the useful plants in the world.
Bamboo can furthermore grow healthy without using any fertilizers. The bamboo plant’s own leaves provide all the nutrients that it needs to grow strong as they fall to the ground. This highly sustainable growth makes bamboo the most environmentally friendly material for both residential and commercial uses. Bamboo is a very versatile plant that can be used for construction, medicine, clothing, crafts, and food.
There are about 100 species of bamboo that are used commercially. About 20 of these species are considered the top ones to grow on commercial plantations. Bamboo has an innate structure that is unbelievably but truly stronger than steel. This makes it a popular material in the construction industry.
Mostly in eastern countries, it is used for scaffolding. It is also used for floors, furniture, bridges, and house walls because it is so durable. Bamboo is used to make a variety of everyday items that need to be strong, such as skateboards, bicycle frames, helmets, and musical instruments.
Bamboo has also found its place in the annals of scientific discovery. Thomas Edison tested 1,600 different materials to use as filament when he was trying to make a working light bulb. In his 1880 light bulb, he tested such materials as coconut fiber, fishing line, and - in his desperation to find something that worked, it seems - even hairs from a worker’s beard. Edison found that carbonized bamboo fibre was the best material as it conducted electrical current most efficiently. Carbonized bamboo fibre also lasted longer than any other material at the time, clocking 1,200 hours inside his electric light bulb. Today, bamboo charcoal in a very thin film is used as a natural “nano tube” to conduct electricity. The bamboo charcoal is disbursed on the surface of a glass or silicon substrate to form the tubing.
In a more rural setting, bamboo is used in irrigation. It’s naturally hollow stem and durable structure make it perfect for the hard work of carrying heavy water under the hot sun.
On the residential side, hundreds of attractive bamboo species exist that are coveted for their ornamental beauty. They are grown in nurseries for use in landscaping and are also used to make home decoration items. Lucky Bamboo is one of the more popular ornamental plants, but interestingly, it is not actually bamboo.
Medicine and Food
Traditional eastern medicine often makes use of the natural compounds found in compounds in bamboo to treat infections and wounds for faster healing. Bamboo has natural antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, known as bamboo-kun. It is these properties that make the bamboo grow strong and healthy without the use of any pesticides. These properties also make the plant a very effective remedy for humans.
Bamboo is commonly eaten as a soup or salad in Asian cuisine. The young bamboo shoots that are fit for human consumption are boiled at a very high temperature. A toxin called taxiphyllin is naturally found in bamboo, and the boiling counteracts it so that it can be safely eaten. Not all varieties of bamboo can be consumed, however.
Many animals also consume bamboo as part of their diet. Some of the animals that benefit from this wonderful plant include the famous panda bear, the African mountain gorilla, the golden monkey, the bamboo rat and the Madagascar lemur.