Bamboo: Beauty or Beast?

Welcome to the first edition of Spotlight, the blog series where we shine some light on the truth about the things touted as good for us or the planet. This time we will be focusing on bamboo.

Background and Basics

Bamboo is a type of grass with over 1200 species found across the world. In the plant world it is rather special, and able to boast a whole host of impressive statistics.

  • The largest species of bamboos typically reach 30m in height, while the smallest mature at just 0.1m.
  • The widest bamboos can exceed 0.2m in diameter.
  • Bamboo boasts astonishing biomass generation. The fastest bamboos can grow up to 0.91m in height in just a single day.
  • The tallest recorded species of bamboo (Dendrocalamus giganteus) can exceed 50m in height!
  • Through sequestration – that’s using carbon in the air as an energy source – Bamboo can produce 35% more oxygen than trees.

In addition, bamboo is loaded with amazing properties.

  • It regrows itself to the extent that the same bamboo can be harvested every 3-5 years, depending on source, and bamboo species.
  • It’s remarkably hardy, surviving the atomic blast at Hiroshima better than any of the other plants and animals.
  • Due to its complex root structure, bamboo can be used to fight soil erosion.
  • Bamboo can grow  sufficiently well to be commercially viable without pesticides or fertiliser.
  • Its high growth rate and prodigious root network make it a natural cleaner for diluting the concentration of nutrients in certain landscapes, or purifying land from chemicals and certain toxins.

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