The Bamboo plant belongs to the grass family called Poaceae under the subgroup Bambusoidae. They are evergreen perennial plants that mostly grow in the tropics. Like other grasses, they have parallel leaves, but for the bamboos specifically, their stems are hollow and columnar. Bamboos are some of the fastest growing plants on the planet, and this is due to their unique rhizome-dependent system, some of plants species can grow up to 36 inches in a 24 hour period. Some of the Bamboo growing in the right conditions without any animal disturbance they can reach up to 164 feet tall and as large as 12-20 inches wide, this, however, does not apply to all bamboo plants but to specific species.
A Brief History Of The Bamboo Plant
Although the plant can now be found in any place within the tropics, it is believed to have originated from China where records show that it was used there as far back as the Han Dynasty in 206 BC. This claim is also supported by the presence of more than 400 species of bamboo that are indigenous only to China. The bamboo that we know today evolved from pre-historic grasses about 40 million years ago and it ended up being an important food source for the herbivores that were around at that time.
Applications Of The Bamboo
No other plant is more versatile than the bamboo when it comes to uses. In ancient China it was used to create makeshift cannons to hurl sulfur bombs at the enemy during wars, it may not have been an accurate tool for that purpose but it made an impression during that time. Bamboo was also used to make paper during the Han Dynasty using a technique that was later stolen by the Turkish who spread it to other parts of Europe. Bamboo was also used as medicine to reduce phlegm, treat epilepsy, fever, and a host of other diseases that plagued people during that era.
Modern Uses Of The Bamboo
Bamboo has been used in the building of road reinforcements in parts of Orissa in India, other structures associated with transport like bridges have been built using bamboos in parts of China and are still usable today. Bamboo has been used to build beautiful housing structures that are not only strong and sturdy but durable with the ability to withstand harsh conditions. Many holiday resorts near beaches use Bamboos to add an aesthetic touch to their establishments, and more than a billion people are estimated to live in bamboo houses. The bamboo plant has for years provided food for both animals and people, and most Asian culinary preparations involve the use of the bamboo plant, bamboo shoots are eaten raw, boiled or used to create a broth, most Asian food stores even sell them in fried, dried, and canned versions that are ready to eat. In Japan, the bamboo is used as a food preservative due to its high antioxidant properties found in its skin that prevents the growth of bacteria. Bamboo is used to make beautiful furniture that can also double up as ornamental pieces in the house. Owing to its lightness that is a result of the hollow space inside, bamboo stems are often used for scaffolding during the building of structures, and it is a cheaper and a more eco-friendly means of building.
Other Minor Uses Of The Bamboo Plant
Some colorful species of the bamboo are used as garden plants in homes, hotels and even at the office as potted plants. Young Bamboos are usually easy to bend and are used to make ornaments like earrings, bracelets, necklaces and other forms of jewelry. The hollow nature of bamboo makes it the ideal material in making musical instruments like flutes, didgeridoos, saxophones, and many others. Bamboo can also be used to make wooden kitchenware like spoons, saucers, ladles, and cooking sticks. Thanks to advancement in technology now it is possible to extract fabric from the bamboo plant and use it to make clothes, bedding material, and drapes at a cheaper cost and less damage to the environment since bamboo plants grow so quickly. Like many hardy plants, dried bamboo can be used as a source of energy when used as firewood or converting it into charcoal. Another architectural application of the plant is in the making of floors. Bamboo flooring is not only beautiful but needs very little attention in maintenance, all one has to do is just clean them. The health benefits associated with the bamboo are diverse, after a numerous research that has been done over the, and it has been found that Bamboo leaves help in maintaining blood sugar levels, reduces cholesterol, strengthens the hair, detoxifies the body, and even help in reducing ulcers and other internal wounds.
Interesting Bamboo Facts
Bamboos have a lifespan of upto120 years, and there are 1,575 bamboo species on the planet identified up to date, 400 of those species are found exclusively in China. The size of the bamboo depends on the species, the largest one known as the Dragon Bamboo can reach a height of around 164 feet. Bamboos grow either as woody or herbaceous plants. Bamboo flowers are rarely seen, and there species of bamboo that develop flowers after 65 years. However, one interesting fact is how a particular species of bamboo will flower at the same time no matter where on in the world it is growing. A bamboo plant reaches maturity after 3 to 5 years. The bamboo stem has a stronger structure than steel and has the advantage of being lighter, and this makes it the ideal material for construction. The bamboo plants give off 30% more oxygen than other plants and take in more carbon-dioxide than other plants, and this makes it the most valuable air purifier in the plant kingdom. Bamboo plants have the highest tolerance levels in the world, and they were the first plants to re-green after the deadly Hiroshima nuclear bomb attack in 1945. Bamboo plants come in different colors, they vary from green which is the most common to red, blue, and black