Bamboo - Species Information
What Is Bamboo - (Phyllostachys aurea)?
Distribution in Ireland: Sparse distribution but locally abundant in some places
Family name: Poaceae
Reproduction: Spreads through vegetive means. Fragments of rhizome or stem
Bamboos are a diverse group of evergreen perennial flowering plants in the subfamily Bambusoideae of the grass family Poaceae.
As in other grasses, the internodal regions of the stem are usually hollow and the vascular bundles in the cross-section are scattered throughout the stem instead of in a cylindrical arrangement. The dicotyledonous woody xylem is also absent. The absence of secondary growth wood causes the stems of monocots, including the palms and large bamboos, to be columnar rather than tapering.
Bamboos include some of the fastest-growing plants in the world, due to a unique rhizome-dependent system. Certain species of bamboo can grow 910 mm within a 24-hour period, at a rate of almost 40mm an hour (a growth around 1 mm every 90 seconds, or 2.54 centimetres every 40 minutes). Giant bamboos are the largest members of the grass family.
The two general patterns for the growth of bamboo are "clumping", and "running", with short and long underground rhizomes, respectively.
Clumping bamboo species tend to spread slowly, as the growth pattern of the rhizomes is to simply expand the root mass gradually, similar to ornamental grasses. "Running" bamboos, though, need to be controlled during cultivation because of their potential for aggressive behavior.
Bamboo plants spread mainly through their rhizomes, which can spread widely underground and send up new culms to break through the surface. Running bamboo species are highly variable in their tendency to spread; this is related to both the species and the soil and climate conditions.
Some Bamboo can send out runners of several meters a year, while others can stay in the same general area for long periods. If neglected, over time, they can cause problems by moving into adjacent areas.
How To Identify Bamboo?
Leaves: Long blade like.
Size: Bamboo can grow to over 5m in height.
Why Is Bamboo A Problem?
Bamboo is so strong it can grow through houses, bursting through walls and floors, as pictures have shown.
It can be expensive to remove from a property, so gardeners should think twice before planting.
These can pose a serious threat to construction works and have devastating consequences to building structures, foundations and drains.
Bamboo Growing Through Floor
Bamboo is strong and its roots system can grow to be huge, even spanning 30ft.
Running bamboo is the riskiest type to plant in your garden.
The "running" relates to the growth of the roots.
Bamboo Species: Bambusa tulda
Bambusa tulda, commonly known as Bengal Bamboo or Indian Timber Bamboo, is a fast growing medium-sized tropical clumping bamboo native to the Indian subcontinent, Indochina, Tibet, and Yunnan.
It is considered to be one of the most valuable multipurpose bamboo species, which usually grows up to a height of 20 m with culm diameters between 5-10 cm.
In India it is used extensively by the paper pulp industry, but due to its nearly solid culms it is also an excellent and strong timber that can be used in construction and scaffolding.
Bambusa tulda has short pachymorph rhizomes which means that it grows in densely tufted clumps.
The slightly drooping culms of Bambusa tulda are usually between 6-20 m tall with an average diameter of 5-10 cm. The culms have 36-60 cm long internodes which are very thick walled (1-2.5 cm at breast height and nearly solid at the base).
Young culms are covered with white blooms which gives them a dull green colour.
Mature culms have a mid-green or greyish green color and sometimes present 2 or 3 faint yellow stripes at the internodes near the base.
The nodes of this bamboo are slightly swollen, with bands of white silky hairs above and below the sheath scar. Basal nodes have short aerial roots.
The triangular culm sheaths of Bambusa tulda are on average 15 cm long by 25 cm wide, with a conical blade of around 5–10 cm length. Culm sheaths are straw-colored and covered with appressed blackish-brown hairs on the upper surface. The sheaths fall off early.
The young shoots are yellowish green in color with a powdery top. Shoots are slightly bitter and are suited to be pickled prior to being eaten.
Bambusa tulda develops many clustered branches per node, usually with 3 larger dominant branches. The lower parts of the culm (ca. from the 4th node up) are characterized by very predominant side-branches.
The lance-shaped leaves of Bambusa tulda are 15-25 cm long by 2-4 cm wide. The midrib of the leaf-blade is visible and has 12-20 secondary veins.
Shoots start to grow at the beginning of rainy season and it takes them approximately 1 month to emerge above the ground. Bambusa tulda is a fast growing bamboo as the shoots can grow up to 70 cm per day. Culms complete their growth within 2-3 months after they emerge as shoots.
Bambusa tulda is a tropical lowland bamboo. In its natural range it commonly occurs as an undergrowth in mixed deciduous forest, in moist alluvial flat land, valleys, and along streams or river banks up to an altitude of 1500 m. In moist areas, it often grows together with Schizostachyum pergracile, in drier parts with Dendrocalamus strictus.
Bambusa tulda grows best in moist areas with a mean annual rainfall between 1,200 - 2,500 mm (tolerates 700 - 4,500 mm) and with average daytime temperatures between 22°C to 28°C (tolerates 4°C to 37°C). It prefers semi-shade areas but also succeeds in full sun. Soils should be loamy, fertile and well drained with high reserves of organic matter, nitrogen, calcium, potassium and phosphorus. Optimal pH is in the range of 5 - 6.
Bambusa tulda normally flowers gregariously for a period of 2 years in a cycle of 15-60 years, and produces viable seed. However, it also often flowers sporadically or in small groups, without an obvious cycle.
Bambusa tulda can be propagated by seed, rhizome cuttings, culm cuttings and by tissue culture. Under normal conditions, seed remains viable for only 1 month. When stored dry (in a desiccator over silica gel) viability can be extended up to 1.5 years.
The germination rate of Bambusa tulda seeds is usually around 70% and takes place fairly quickly as long as the seeds are of good quality, though it can take 3 - 6 months.
In countries where seeds occur, young seedlings with 2-4 leaves are usually collected from the forest floor and grown in a nursery until they are large enough to plant out.
Propagation by rhizome cuttings with direct planting in the field is a very successful propagation method (survival more than 90%). Rhizome parts should be taken at the beginning of the rainy season from 1-2 year old culms and planted in pits of 60 cm3 at a spacing of 8 m × 8 m.
Propagation by culm cuttings gives varying result. The best chance to success is to cut 1-2 year old culms bearing 3-4 nodes with viable buds. Plant the 1.5 to 3 m long sections horizontally in sandy soil at 5-10 cm depth. It takes about 9 months to obtain rooted plants from culm cuttings.
Branch cuttings can also be successful, but air and ground layering are not.
Dividing seedlings is another good propagation method. Take divisions from 9-month-old seedlings with at least three culms per clump, each bearing roots and rhizomes. The secret is to cause as little root disturbance as possible. Plant the divisions in a fertile well-drained substrate and grow them under shade while regularly applying mist to the foliage. Once a good root system has been developed (which can take a year or more), the plants can be planted at their permanent location.
Diseases and pests
Bambusa tulda is slightly to moderately susceptible to bamboo blight (Sarocladium oryzae) which attacks young bamboos during, or soon after elongation growth, usually followed by secondary insect infestation which increases the damage. Drenching the soil of affected clumps with a fungicide (e.g. dithane M45) before the rains start improves the survival rates of new culms.
Young shoots for vegetable use should preferably be harvested while they are still underground.
Harvesting mature culms may start 5-7 years after planting. Normally 3-4 year old culms are harvested, retaining at least 3-6 evenly spaced culms per clump. A 4 year felling cycle is often adopted.
After harvesting, the culms are traditionally submerged in running water for 10-20 days to improve its resistance against powder-post beetles. The culms are then air dried for 1.5 - 3.5 months.
The annual yield of dry mature culms is about 3 tons per hectare.
Bambusa tulda is one of the most useful Bambusa species because of its near solid culms and very strong timber. In India and Bangladesh it is a major commercially exploited bamboo.
As a raw material, Bambusa tulda is extensively used by the Indian paper pulping industry. It is suitable for the manufacture of wrapping, writing and printing paper.
The culms are also used for reinforcing concrete, scaffolding, as a structural timber in construction, furniture, basketry, mats, household utensils, fishing rods, handicrafts, and bamboo lacquer ware. In Arunachal Pradesh, the species is used for Bansuri flute making, locally called "Eloo”. During the Dree festival priests belief that the sound will keep the evil spirits away.
The shoots of Bambusa tulda are edible, but taste slightly bitter and are therefore often pickled. Fermented shoots are rich in phytosterols and can be used for the production of sterol drugs to lower cholesterol levels.
In agroforestry, Bambusa tulda is often planted as a wind-break around farms and fields.
Density 722 kg/m3 at a moisture content of 12% (air dry).
Fiber stress at elastic limit 26.2 N/mm2 (green) - 38.1 N/mm2 (air-dry).
Modulus of rupture 51.1 N/mm2 (green) - 66.7 N/mm2 (air-dry).
Modulus of elasticity 10.0 N/mm2 (green) - 12.3 N/mm2 (air-dry).
Compression strength parallel to grain 40.7 N/mm2 (green) - 68 N/mm2 (air-dry).
Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam
Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Indonesia, Iraq, Philippines, Puerto Rico, USA
Bamboo Species: Schizostachyum pergracile
Schizostachyum pergracile (previously Cephalostachyum pergracile) is a beautiful medium sized clumping bamboo native to India and Indochina.
The common name for this bamboos species is Tinwa Bamboo and the plant has good quality canes which are used extensively for cooking and baking sticky rice, the poles are also used for construction.
Schizostachyum pergracile is a priority bamboo and cultivated both within and outside its native range for its usefull canes and as an ornamental.
Schizostachyum pergracile has short rhizomes which means that its grows in dense clumps.
Schizostachyum pergracile has erect culms that slightly bend toward the top. The culms are on average 10-15 m tall (although 30 m has been reported in optimal conditions), and have average diameter of 50-75 mm. The internodes are thin walled and on average 30-45 cm long. Nodes are slightly thickened and basal nodes do not present aerial roots.
The colour of the culms is bluish-green (somewhat whitish below the nodes when young), and greyish-green when mature. Young shoots have an orange-yellow colour.
The culm sheaths of Schizostachyum pergracile are 10-15 cm long and cover about half the length of the internode. They have a typical orange-brown colour and are covered with black hairs.
Schizostachyum pergracile has many short thin branches at each node, which are about equal in size and 0,5-1 m long. Branches usually arise from the higher nodes, but occasionally culms have rudimentary branches on the lower part of the culm as well.
Leaves are lance shaped and 15-35 cm long by 25-32 mm wide. The leaf surface is rough on both sides and has 14-26 secondary veins. Usually there are 5–8 leaves per branchlet.
Schizostachyum pergracile is a tropical lowland bamboo. It grows best on lower hills, in mountain valleys, and in mixed deciduous forests near streams up to an altitude of 1000 m. This bamboo thrives on well-drained loamy soils, but is also suitable for sandy, heavy clay and red soils.
Schizostachyum pergracile is vigorous in moist forests where it co-exists with Teak, Bambusa polymorpha or Dendrocalamus membranaceus, but in the drier forests where Dendrocalamus strictusis the prevailing bamboo, it is stunted.
Schizostachyum pergracile flowers sporadically almost every year. When it flowers sporadically, it generally does not produce viable seed. Schizostachyum pergracile does produce viable seeds when it flowers gregariously over extensive areas. The gregarious flowering cycle for this bamboo varies from 7-15 years.
Local ethnic villagers of Manipur have a superstitious belief that bamboo flowering is a bad omen to the particular village or to a particular homestead. The peoples generally destruct bamboo clumps immediately after flowering. But Schizostachyum pergracile clumps develop very slowly; under favourable conditions they take 12-15 years to produce full-sized culms, while under unfavourable conditions this may take up to 30 years. Considering its uses in social life of local peoples and for interest in biodiversity conservation, it is required to protect this species from further extermination.
Suitable spacing varies according to the purpose of planting. For wind-breaks and fences 3-4 m x 3-4 m is used, for plantations 8 m x 8 m is recommended.
Yield figures are scarce. About 7 t/ha of air-dried culms per year are reported from India and Burma (Myanmar) from a crop with a cutting cycle of 3 years.
Schizostachyum pergracile belongs to the list of priority species and is an important bamboo in its native habitat because it is widely harvested from the wild for its useful canes. It is often planted around houses and villages in Myanmar and Thailand because many local people prefer this bamboo over conventional pots to cook and eat glutinous rice. Freshly cut internodes of 1-year-old culms are used as cooking vessels. The green canes of S. pergracile withstand fire and add a unique fragrant flavor to the meal. The bamboo casing also acts as a convenient container in which the cooked food can be carried while traveling or working in the forest.
The canes are also used in light construction (as house posts, roof frames, walling mats, shingles etc.), as fishing rods, and for making handicrafts (especially lacquerware). They green outer layer is easily split into thin strips which are used for basketry and mat making. The culms are also used as a raw material for paper pulp.
Schizostachyum pergracile is also recommended as an ornamental for landscaping or screening because of its beautiful greyish-green culms with reddish-brown culm sheaths.
Young shoots are edible but have a bitter taste.
Assam, Bangladesh, China South-Central, East Himalaya, India, Laos, and Myanmar.
Bamboo Species: Bambusa sp. Longinternode
Bambusa sp. Longinternode is a medium sized tropical bamboo native to China. It typically has long internodes (space between the culm nodes) and nearly solid culms at the base.
The abbreviation "sp." means that the actual species name is not yet specified.
The straight and erect culms of Bambusa sp. Longinternode grow on average 10-15 m tall and 6-12 cm in diameter. Culms are thick walled and some are solid to nearly solid at the base.
Its typical long internodes can reach over 1 meter in the middle of the culm. The light green color with whitish powder makes this bamboo attractive, and good for landscaping.
Bambusa sp. Longinternode is a sympodial (clumping) bamboo, which means the rhizomes are short and not invasive.
As its name indicates, the internodes are longer than most other bamboos. This makes Bambusa sp. Longinternode useful for crafts and flute-making. The poles are also a good construction and fiber material and are often used for laminated or plywood boards, pulp, charcoal, biofuel, etc.
3 x 3 m - 1110 plants / ha
3 x 4 m - 840 plants / ha
Bambusa sp. Longinternode is native to the Yunnan province, China.
Bamboo Species: Guadua angustifolia
Guadua angustifolia ‘Kunth’ is a tropical species of giant timber bamboo native to South America. It is considered to be the strongest bamboo in the world, and also the 3rd largest. Guadua bamboo is by far the most important bamboo in America, and is often compared with its Asian counterpart: Moso (Phyllostachys edulis).
In 1822, the German botanist Kunth described Guadua as a genus segregated from the Asian one, Bambusa. Kunth used the indigenous word ‘angustifolia’ (narrow leaf), which was the name given to this bamboo among the native communities of Colombia and Ecuador.
Guadua angustifolia produces exceptional quality timber and belongs to the list of priority species. Common names for this species are Colombian Timber Bamboo, Colombian Giant Thorny, or American Narrow-Leaved Bamboo.
Although technically a clumping bamboo, Guadua angustifolia is often seen as a spreading bamboo since its rhizomes can reach lengths between 1 and 2,5 m.
In Colombia the guadua rhizome is commonly referred to as “Caiman” because of its resemblance to the body of a crocodile. Each rhizome has a distinguishable front and rear part also known as the “Caiman’s body” and “Caiman’s tail”.
The rear part consists of a solid cylindrical axis with an average diameter of 6,5 cm and an average length of 80 cm. The thickened and widened front part is on average 20 cm wide (the widest part), 11,5 cm thick and about 50 cm long.
It is the front part of the rhizome that generates new rhizomes. Such new rhizomes either become strong rhizomatic branches of about 60 cm long that anchor and support the aerial part of the plant, or become rhizomes that can produce new shoots/culms.
Each Guadua rhizome can produce up to 4 new culms within its reproductive period of 4 years. Shoots usually occur during rainy season, where a maximum of 3 shoots per rhizome can emerge simultaneously. All new culms emerged from a single rhizome system will have similar or greater diameter and length characteristics than the plant it was generated from.
Guadua angustifolia roots emerge from the rhizomes and have an average diameter of 5 mm. Each rhizome produces around 600 to 1000 roots.
Approximately 40% of the total roots emerge from the underside of the rhizome and grow vertically reaching depths of up to 2,5 m (depending on the soil texture). The remaining 60% of the roots sprout from the lateral parts of the rhizome and present a horizontal growth that can reach distances up to 5 m.
Although Guadua roots can grow quite deep, they do not necessarily need deep soils to develop. Guadua angustifolia can grow perfectly in soils that are only 40 or 45 cm deep.
The culms of Guadua angustifolia are on average 15-25 m tall and 9-13 cm in diameter. However, diameters up to 25 cm and heights up to 35 m have been reported, which makes Guadua angustifolia the 3rd largest bamboo species in the world. Normally it takes between 6-8 years after planting to produce average size culms, but under perfect conditions, 12 cm diameter culms could already start to appear in the 4th year.
A very prominent characteristic of all species within the Guadua genus are the thick white bands around the nodes. With Guadua angustifolia, each node has an upper and lower whitish to brown coloured band that consist of short stiff hairs. These bands gradually lose their colour as the culm matures. Fully matured culms are recognized by the absence of these white nodal bands.
Young Guadua angustifolia culms have an intense green colour due to the high content of chlorophyll in its tissues. Chlorophyll is a green pigment essential for photosynthesis. Until branches and leaves have been developed, the culm is responsible for turning light into energy. In later stages of its development the culm colour changes to a dark green and eventually pale green colour.
Guadua angustifolia internodes are hollow with an average wall thickness of 1,3 cm, and present a shallow groove close to the buds at the nodes. A 20 m tall culm counts a total of 75 internodes which can be divided into 4 parts;
The first section, starting from the base has a total length of 4 m and consists of 18 internodes with an average length of 22 cm. This part of the culm remains covered with culm sheaths until it has matured. Long thorny basal branches may develop.
The second section has a total length of 6 m and consists of 18 internodes with an average length of 34 cm. In this part of the culm, the internode lengths are constant and do not develop branches. Culm sheaths fall of early.
The third section has a total length of 7 m and consists of 18 internodes with an average length of 37 cm. The longest internodes are found in this part of the culm, it is also the section where the first (and longest) apical branches start to appear.
The fourth section has a total length of 3 m and consists of 21 internodes with an average length of 14 cm. In this section of the culm, diameter and length of the internodes decreases rapidly. As in the third section, culm sheaths fall off when branches start to appear. Due to the weight of branches and leaves, the tip of the culm arches.
Guadua angustifolia has two types of branches which are each performing specific functions; the basal branches and the apical branches.
Basal branches are located in the first quarter of the culm (from node 3 to 18). Usually a total of 4 to 12 branches emerge from this part of the culm and consist of 1 single thorny branch on every other node. These branches grow at opposite sides of the culm and in a straight line.
The average length of basal branches is 3,8 m but can extend up to 6-8 m. They have an average diameter of 1,1 cm and bare 3 spines per node, of which the central spine is longer than the lateral ones. Often times these branches stop growing after 2 to 10 cm, becoming dangerously sharp protective thorns.
Apical branches start to develop from the middle part of the culm, approximately at node 38. Usually a total of 36 branches develop at this part of the culm and consist of 1 single branch on every other node, gradually shortening their length towards the apex forming a “fish bone”. Apical branches don’t have thorns but bear abundant foliage. Their average diameter is 2 cm.
Guadua angustifolia leaves are lance-shaped and on average 13-21 cm long by 14-32 mm wide. They are smooth on the upper surface and present whitish hairs on the underside.
In an adult culm there are between 14.000 and 20.000 leaves that generate a foliar area of approximately 53,5 m².
Guadua angustifolia can grow in all tropical life zones, but reaches its best development in very humid lower montane, and very humid subtropical forests. Large native forest can be seen in the central coffee region of the Andes in Colombia.
Optimal climate conditions for spectacular growth are average temperatures between 20 and 26 °C, altitudes between 900 and 1600 meters above sea level, annual rainfall between 2000 and 2500 mm, and a relative humidity of 75 - 85%.
In terms of soil requirements, Guadua angustifolia prefers alluvial soils that are rich in volcanic ash with a moderate fertility and good drainage.
Five centuries ago there were about 12 million hectares of natural forests in Colombia. Today it is estimated that there are about 51.000 ha of Guadua left, 46.000 ha of natural forests and some 5.000 ha of planted forests.
Guadua angustifolia, often referred to as "vegetal steel", is most famous for its extraordinary strength properties that surpass many conventional timber species. The favorable mechanical properties of the stems, combined with high durability, flexibility, relative light weight, regular form, and resistance, have made it one of the world's most important bamboo species for construction related applications.
Architects and engineers use Guadua in all types of buildings such as prefabricated structures, social housing projects, urban construction, and sturdy bridges. Houses built with Guadua bamboo are also earthquake resistant and can easily meet the International Building Code (IBC).
In agricultural and livestock sectors, Guadua is widely used for building rural bridges, fence posts, rural water supply systems, sheds, poultry and cattle pens, erosion barriers, greenhouses, and as plant support sticks for various crops. The use of bamboo as plant stakes has largely replaced the use of other forest species that were in the process of deterioration.
In local economies bamboo is also a very popular raw material for making furniture and crafts. From bamboo musical instruments to countless household items like cups, bowls, flower vases, etc. In Colombia the Guadua stems and even rhizomes are used for making luxury design furniture and lamps. The strength of the Guadua poles also allow for building playground equipment such as swing sets, sandboxes or slides.
As a natural fiber Guadua has enormous potential for the manufacturing of floor boards, panels, plywood, veneer, moldings, laminated furniture, utensils, etc. In other words, high quality products that could be sold to national and international markets.
The species Guadua angustifolia is native to Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela, but has been successfully introduced in many other American and Asian countries.
National Biodiversity Data Centre Ireland - Recognised Invasive Plant Species.
There are currently 35 invasive plant species identified as high risk on Ireland's biodiversity control list. Here's the A to Z of plant species included on the list (updated 2017)...
Click on a species from the following list to find out more
Red Alga - Grateloupia doryphora
Waterweeds - Elodea (all species)