9 Interesting Facts About Bamboo

There’s no denying that bamboo is one cool-looking plant. But did you know that bamboo is literally a cool plant? This plant can cool, purify and add more oxygen to the air! It’s a sustainable powerhouse that can revolutionize the building industry, help the planet and reduce our carbon footprint.

Below, we’ve put together a list of our favorite fun facts about the world’s most interesting plant. Let’s explore all of the amazing things you can do with bamboo, learn about where bamboo grows and discover where to buy bamboo products.

What Is Bamboo?

While often mistaken for a tree variety, bamboo is actually a giant grass. It’s a perennial flowering plant in the subfamily Bambusoideae of the grass family Poaceae and is the only one to diversify in forests. Just like a typical lawn, bamboo grows with a shallow-yet-dense root network. Unlike other grasses, most bamboo varieties are naturally evergreen — in place of green grass blades, bamboo grows woody culms.

Where Does Bamboo Grow?

With a presence in five continents, bamboo grows all over the world in temperate, subtropical and tropical climates — you can grow bamboo nearly anywhere. This plant grows in every continent except Europe and Antarctica, and while the plant isn’t indigenous to Europe, bamboo is now grown in the warmer southern part of the continent.

How to Grow Bamboo

If you’d like to try planting bamboo, do it in a sunny area with moist, well-drained soil to ensure it thrives. The best time to plant bamboo in the Northern Hemisphere is in the spring, so the grass variety has time to develop a good root system before autumn comes. Allow any dropped leaves to accumulate on the ground as nutrient-rich mulch for your bamboo grove.

Because the bamboo root system is dense and can spread quickly, it’s best to avoid planting it near your neighbors or property systems, like sewage lines. Only plant bamboo where it can spread safely, in an area where you can easily control the forest perimeter with regular mowing.

9 Things to Know About Bamboo

Whether you’re new to bamboo or a bamboo enthusiast, everyone can learn something new about the world’s most exciting grass. Check out the following little-known facts about all the things you can do with bamboo, one of the most incredible plants on the planet.

1. Bamboo Is the Fastest Growing Plant

Move over, Jack and the Beanstalk, the growth rate of bamboo is no fairy tale. It isn’t just a fast-growing plant — bamboo is the fastest growing land plant on Earth. Because of its growth abilities, bamboo is an incredibly sustainable resource that prevents deforestation. Many bamboo species quickly rejuvenate after a harvest, compared to waiting a few decades for a return of hardwood forest tree growth.

Is there anything that compares to the growth rate of bamboo? Yes — but not on land, and technically not a plant! That rare distinction belongs to a unique ocean creature that is neither plant nor animal. The Macrocystis pyrifera, commonly known as giant kelp, is a large brown alga that can grow more than 150 feet long at a rate of 1 to 2 feet per day.

2. Bamboo Is a Superior Air Purifier

While all plants help our ecosystem by converting carbon dioxide (CO2) into oxygen through photosynthesis, bamboo takes it to the next level. A bamboo grove cools the air around it and releases plenty of oxygen output into the atmosphere. This makes bamboo an oxygen-boosting super plant that can help reduce our carbon footprint and fight climate change.

Additionally, bamboo is naturally antibacterial, making it an optimal material to create a wide range of materials, from textiles to charcoal. Hanging out among living bamboo plants will also make you feel better. The high output of oxygen from bamboo gives your brain an oxygen high, increasing feelings of calm and joy. A few days spent in a bamboo forest will reduce blood pressure, tension, stress and headaches.

3. Bamboo Is an Eco-Friendly Alternative to Traditional Wood

Compared to most crops, bamboo needs much less water to thrive and doesn’t require toxic chemicals, fertilizers or pesticides. It’s a sustainable superpower that reduces waste, conserves water, reduces soil toxins, purifies the air and replenishes itself more quickly than any other tree crop.

Beyond its replenishing nature and regrowth rate, bamboo is a superior flooring surface, building material and lumber alternative for a few reasons:

  • Hardness: On the Janka Hardness Scale, a tool that determines the hardness of wood and its ability to withstand wear, bamboo has a rating between 1,300 and 1,400, making it harder than most oak flooring.
  • Affordability: This is a long-lasting, beautiful and less expensive alternative to other flooring choices. Often, cost-effective bamboo is a better return on investment.
  • Strength: In the world of woodworking, maple is one of the hardest and densest woods, making it a preferred choice for furniture and hardwood floors. However, bamboo is harder than maple, plus it’s lightweight and strong.

4. Bamboo Can Be Stronger Than Steel

One common misconception about bamboo is associating its lightweight, flexible nature with weakness. The truth is that bamboo is anything but weak. Thanks to its tightly packed molecular structure, some bamboo poles have a stronger structure than steel.

This plant has a tensile strength — the resistance against splitting or breaking under pressure — of a whopping 28,000 pounds per square inch (psi), making it one of the strongest available building materials. By comparison, steel measures 23,000 psi. Due to their strength, larger bamboo poles are used in construction to build frames, scaffolding, fencing, housing and more. It can even reinforce concrete as a renewable and cost-effective steel bar replacement.

5. Bamboo Is Healthy and Delicious

When tender, new-growth bamboo is harvested for eating. It’s possible to purchase fresh, canned or dried bamboo shoots as a cooking ingredient, especially for dishes such as stir-fry and soups. Additionally, bamboo leaf tea can be enjoyed hot or cold and has a mildly sweet flavor.

The plant is a yummy delicacy rich in health-boosting nutrients:

  • Dietary fiber: Reduces blood pressure and hypertension
  • Potassium: Lowers fluid retention and supports nerve function
  • Tyrosine: Regulates hormones and facilitates metabolism
  • Thiamine: Plays a key role in heart, muscle and nerve function
  • Vitamins A: Supports the immune system, eye health and vision
  • Vitamin E: Prevents inflammation and provides antioxidant properties
  • Vitamin B6: Improves mood, brain health and sleep quality

Not to be outdone by humans, pandas eat a tremendous amount of bamboo, as it’s basically their sole food source. An adult giant panda spends most of its day foraging to find and consume about 40 pounds of bamboo, using its powerful jaws and teeth to crunch the fibrous plant into consumable pieces. Because a panda digests its food more like a carnivore than an herbivore, the animal needs to consume a large quantity of bamboo to absorb the nutrients.

6. Bamboo Protects Against Landslides and Earthquakes

With a dense network of interwoven rhizome roots, bamboo firmly holds topsoil in place. The plant’s unique anchoring structure makes it superior for erosion control. Throughout Africa and Asia, strategically planted bamboo forests are grown to protect slopes, creek walls, riverbanks and dam walls. The root structure is so strong that during an earthquake, people will be safe inside of a bamboo grove.

In the natural disaster-prone area of the Eastern Visayas region of the Philippines, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) promotes planting bamboo as a riverbank-compatible plant to help mitigate landslides. That’s because bamboo can stabilize vulnerable regions, prevent mudslides and protect against natural disasters.

7. Bamboo Boasts More Than 1,600 Diverse Species

When you think of bamboo, you probably picture a tall green plant made of hollow cylindrical poles. That’s certainly accurate, but more than 1,600 species of bamboo exist worldwide in hot and cold environments.

The appearance of bamboo plants varies widely, from variegated to striped to multicolored. A few varieties, such as the Phyllostachys heteroclada “water bamboo” plant, aren’t hollow at all, growing with solid stems to grow in wet soil. Additionally, bamboo comes in wildly different sizes and shapes, from the Amazon rain forest’s diminutive bamboo that grows no larger than a pencil to Asia’s colossal canopies of timber bamboo.

While the green color is common, bamboo comes in a rainbow of colors, including the following striking hues:

  • Black: The ebony-hued Phyllostachys nigra is a rare beauty.
  • Gold: Stems of the Phyllostachys aurea turn a bright golden yellow with ample sun exposure.
  • Blue: “Tropical blue bamboo” Bambusa chungii has distinctive pale blue and white stalks.
  • Red: It’s hard to miss the vivid red canes of the “Red Dragon” clumping Fargesia jiuzhaigou variety.

8. Bamboo Is the Ultimate Gardening Resource

Seasoned gardeners know that bamboo is the magic ingredient for a thriving garden. The dropped bamboo leaves create a nutrient-dense mulch that enriches your soil and feeds the bamboo and surrounding plants. Furthermore, bamboo mulch is an excellent weed barrier and a helpful addition to compost bins.

Thin bamboo poles are strong, lightweight and supple — bamboo stakes hold up climbing crops and support top-heavy plants to ensure a great harvest and prevent broken limbs. Use bamboo poles to create a wide variety of functional and aesthetically pleasing garden additions:

  • Stakes
  • Tomato cages
  • Trellises
  • Borders
  • Bee houses
  • Privacy screens
  • Fencing
  • Hanging planters

9. Bamboo Is One of the Most Sustainable Building Materials on the Planet

With its capacity to be harvested and continuous, rapid growth, bamboo is far more sustainable than other woods and grown resources. The ultimate green alternative to traditional hardwood trees, bamboo forests can be harvested every 3-5 years versus 10-20 for most woods. Additionally, bamboo doesn’t require replanting, positioning bamboo as a significant contributor to preventing deforestation worldwide.

Therefore, bamboo is the sustainable, eco-friendly choice for construction projects, flooring, garden structures, resorts, parks and other commercial spaces.

A Few More Fun Facts About Bamboo

Impress guests at your next social gathering with a few more unusual bamboo facts:

  1. Bamboo was used in the first firecrackers: Around 200 BC, the Chinese created the first firecrackers when they discovered bamboo makes a loud popping noise when exposed to fire, which is due to air pockets releasing between nodes.
  2. Bamboo produces flowers: It’s rare to see, but bamboo does flower. Most have a bloom cycle of once every 60-80 years, with some varieties only flowering once every 120 years. When a bamboo variety flowers, every plant of that same species across the globe flowers and seeds at the same time.
  3. Bamboo was used in the first light bulbs: Thomas Edison used filaments made from bamboo in his first light bulbs, one of which exists today at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

Where to Buy Bamboo Products

If you’re looking for the very best bamboo products on the market, we’ve got you covered! Forever Bamboo has everything you need to transform your residential and commercial spaces with bamboo:

  • Poles: Design the garden of your dreams using versatile bamboo poles left intact or halved. These beautiful poles come in 5-, 8- or 10-foot lengths to create trellises, accents, stakes and more.
  • Thatch: Forever Bamboo carries the largest inventory of commercial-grade Tahitian, Fijian and Mexican palm, African Reed and artificial thatch products in the U.S. at incredible prices.
  • Matting: Forever Bamboo’s bamboo matting comes in different patterns, colors, textures and sizes and is 100% eco-friendly, causing no damage to the environment when you dispose of them.
  • Fencing: Turn your uninviting chain-link fencing into a tropical paradise with bamboo fencing. This plant allows you to add privacy without removing your existing metal fence.
  • Paneling: Transform your flat interior and exterior walls with our gorgeous textured bamboo paneling available in 8- and 50-foot lengths and 4-foot heights.
  • Slats: Use distinctive Moso bamboo slats as wainscoting, wall coverings and accents. Available in four colors, our slats can match every aesthetic.
  • Tiki huts: Forever Bamboo’s DIY kits have everything you need to assemble Tiki huts and Palapas, including detailed instructions, hardware, lodge poles, roof framing and thatch covering.
  • Umbrellas: At Forever Bamboo, we have one of the most extensive selections of thatch Tiki umbrellas in the industry. Shade your oasis with our African Reed and Mexican Palm umbrellas and covers.
  • Furniture: Let our vast collection of long-lasting bamboo furnishings cover your tropical decor needs — we offer stools, chairs, loungers, tables, shelves, privacy screens and furniture sets.

Interesting Facts About Bamboo Products

Unlike most building materials for furniture and other materials, bamboo products are:

  • Versatile: Multiuse bamboo is used to make lumber, furniture, paneling, fencing, paper, clothing, utensils, flooring, roofs, jewelry and so much more.
  • Lightweight: These products are lighter in weight than traditional lumber, making them safer to use in construction projects and transport.
  • Strong: With a higher tensile strength than steel, most bamboo products are more durable and long-lasting than items built from other materials.
  • Finish-free: Unlike most wood products, bamboo requires no toxic finishes like painting or sealing to preserve its beauty and functionality.
  • Eco-friendly: This plant’s sustainability adds more oxygen to the air and regrows faster than traditional lumber-producing tree forests.
  • Biodegradable: These products are biodegradable, can be converted to mulch and other bamboo products and add no toxins to the environment.

Find Superior Quality Bamboo Products at Forever Bamboo

When you build, decorate or enhance your space with bamboo, you can rest assured you’re using one of the most sustainable materials on the planet. Feel good about your contribution to the Earth as you create a beautiful environment in your home, garden and business using top-quality bamboo products from Forever Bamboo.

Shop our wide selection of bamboo poles, thatch, matting, fencing, paneling, slats, blinds, umbrellas and Tiki huts to design your tropical oasis. Let our expert staff answer all of your bamboo questions and help take the guesswork out of materials and measurements. Give us a call at 877-912-2244 to learn how easily our eco-friendly bamboo products can transform your next project!