Thursday, April 16, 2015

Six Reasons to Love the Fun and Versatile Bamboo

1.     Bamboo’s probably the most famous for being loved by the ever-adorable pandas.

2.     Having recently received a beautiful handmade journal with bamboo paper, I’ve become more interested in bamboo itself.  The paper is porous but very soft. As the tag says, due to its fast growth rate, “bamboo has become recognized as one of the world’s most important environmentally friendly materials.”

I imagine the method is something like this, only the paper in my book is considerably softer and more refined than the paper produced here

3.     Many may have heard that bamboo is considered lucky, and some might even have received it as a housewarming present to represent good fortune for the future. It probably resembled something like this.

  Or this.    
According to the number of stalks in the gift is significant. (There's not a meaning listed for only one stalk.)
  • Two stalks = love. 
  • Three stalks = Fu (happiness), Lu (wealth), and Soh (long life).
  • Five stalks = the areas of life that represent wealth (e.g., spiritual, mental, emotional, physical, and intuitive).
  • Six stalks = good luck and wealth.
  • Seven stalks = good health. 
  • Eight stalks = growth. 
  • Nine stalks = great luck. 
  • Ten stalks = perfection.
  • Twenty-one stalks = a powerful blessing.  

Interestingly, you'll never find a traditional lucky bamboo arrangement with four stalks. In Chinese, the word for four is close to the word for death, so a gift of four bamboo stalks would be considered very rude, as if you had wished death on the recipient!
4.     Having heard that bamboo is invasive, I went to the extension site to see what resources they had. One article on bamboo (full article here) states that “bamboo species have nearly a worldwide distribution.... Taxonomically, bamboo is classified in the grass family (Poacea) and is represented by more than 1,000 species and 91 genera. Taken together, bamboo is recognized as the fastest growing woody, evergreen, perennial plant.”

The American Bamboo Society ( provides the full taxonomy as the following.
 KINGDOM: Plantae
  PHYLUM (DIVISION): Magnoliophyta
    CLASS: Liliopsida
      SUBCLASS: Commelinidae
        ORDER: Cyperales
          FAMILY: Gramineae (Poaceae)
            SUBFAMILY: Bambusoideae
              TRIBE: Bambuseae
                SUBTRIBE: bambusinae

Happily, not all bamboo is invasive. There’s the bunch type and the running type. The bunch type spreads from the center of the plant at a gradual (thus manageable) pace while the running type is considered the more invasive since “their rhizomes can run between 20 to 30 feet underground before sprouting.”

If you’re interested in adding some clumping bamboo to your yard for extra green and a different texture, the extension office recommends the following that do well in Tennessee.  
  • Fargesia rufa ‘Green Panda’– can grow 6-8 feet tall by 8 feet in diameter at maturity. This evergreen species is cold-hardy to -15 degrees F, and is a great all-around cultivar.
  • Fargesia robusta – ‘Green Screen’ can grow 15-18 feet at maturity, providing a great option for privacy screening. This cultivar is sun-tolerant and cold-hardy to -10 degrees F. It tolerates summertime heat as far south as USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 9.
  • Fargesia murieliae – ‘New Umbrella’ is a smaller clumping form that grows 2 feet tall and wide at maturity. In autumn, older leaves may yellow. This cultivar is cold-hardy to -20 degrees F. 
5.     Another extension publication talks about making the most out of outdoor time with preschool children (full article here) and includes bamboo as a plant to use when teaching children how to create a sound wall. “A sound wall is a collection of devices, such as pots, pans, metal tubing, triangles, or bamboo that make various tones and sounds. These items are generally hung freely at the child’s level so that children can use them to explore sound.” If you have youngsters you want to engage with the outdoors, this article has some great suggestions.

This wall may be a bit more ambitious than the one indicated in the article.
6.     For those who like cool, fruity snacks for summer, try this delicious recipe from this extension article using bamboo skewers. (All recipes in the article may be found here).

 Consider taking advantage of one of these ideas this summer. 

L. A. Henderson TEMG '13

1 comment:

  1. So many things that I didn't know about bamboo!


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