Introduction to Bamboo

Bamboos belong to the family Graminae/Poaceae under tribe Bambooseae. There are 50 genera and about 1326 species of bamboos inhibiting the humid tropical, sub-tropical and mild temperate regions of the world. 75% percent of the total bamboos in the world are in Asia and India alone accounts for the 50 % of the total bamboo reserves in the world. Bamboos are mostly found associated with several species as they hardly occur in pure form like Anogeissus latifolia (Nepali Name- Banjhi ), Phyllanthus emblica ( Amala). Shorea robusta (Sal), Tectona grandis (Teak/Sagwan), Litsea monopetala ( Kutmiro), Lagerstroemia parviflora( Bot Dhainyaro), Terminalia spps. and so on. The distribution of bamboo is mostly governed by rainfall, temperature, latitude and soil type.
They are woody grasses in which the culms arise from the woody rhizomes. The culms are generally hollow with walls of varying thickness according to the species. The number of new culms produced varies distinctly with the type of species and the size and vigor of the clump. Bamboos require 8 to 36 degree Celsius and minimum of 100 cm of rainfall in its area for good growth.
Introduction to Bamboo -- Bamboo

Some of the popular species are Bambusa arundinacea, Bambus tulda, Bambusa vulgaris, Dendrocalamus strictus,etc.

How Strong is the Bamboo?

Bamboo is harder than the traditional hard woods. In fact, it is harder by 2-3 times than most of hardwoods. The tensile strength of bamboo cable is as stronger as or stronger than steel cable of same dimension and it withstands compression better than concrete. The bamboo cables increase its strength when its wet by 20% different than hemp rope that loses 20% strength when wet. Home build up Bamboo have lifespan as long as or longer than any conventional wood framed building after it is properly installed and maintained. Bamboo structure has it history of 200 years in Japan.  

Uses of Bamboos

  • Bamboo is extensively used in place of a timber for variety of application like building houses, making scaffolds, flutes, fence posts, flooring, in developing countries making different fancy furniture products like baskets, handles, chair, tables, frames, foundations, doors and so on.
  • Bamboos' shoots are the portion commonly used as food by many people. The fast-growing shoot of bamboo is soft and are edible to human. The fibrous exterior is removed from the shoot and boiled as raw bamboo contains toxin producing cyanide in the gut.  In Nepal, a locally named product of bamboo 'tama' is very popular among people of both rural and urban area which is used as curry with other vegetables or as pickle.
  • It is also taken as fodder by animals. The leaves are nutritious and palatable. Giant panda of China, Red panda of Nepal, lemurs of Madagascar eat soft bamboo shoots, stems and leaves as their major food source. Elephant as well consume some species of bamboo as its favorite food.
  • The bamboos can be used as a measure for conserving soil and controlling land erosion on the degraded sites. Their shallow and fibrous root system allows for soil conservation.
  • Bamboo is used for purification and regulation of the environment, reduces greenhouse effects as they function as carbon sinks, produce oxygen, produce organic matter and regulate water level in watershed along with soil erosion control.