Sunday, March 23, 2008
A bamboo grove in a backyard.
Bamboo is a group of woody perennial evergreen plants in the true grass family Poaceae, subfamily Bambusoideae, tribe Bambuseae. Some of its members are giant bamboo, forming by far the largest members of the grass family. Bamboo is the fastest growing woody plant in the world. Their accelerated growth rate (up to 3-4 feet/day (1.5-2.0 inches/hr)) is due to a unique rhizome system and is dependent on local soil and climate conditions.
They are of economic and high cultural significance in East Asia and South East Asia where they are used extensively in gardens, as a building material as well as a food source. In Filipino, they are known as kawayan, in Chinese as zhu (Chinese: 竹; pinyin: zhú), in Japanese as take (Kanji: 竹; Hiragana: たけ, take?), in Korean as dae (대) or daenamu (대나무), in Vietnamese as Tre /tʃe/, and in Indonesian as bambu.
There are 91 genera and about 1,000 species of bamboo. They are found in diverse climates, from cold mountains to hot tropical regions. They occur across East Asia, from 50°N latitude in Sakhalin through to northern Australia, and west to India and the Himalaya. They also occur in sub-Saharan Africa, and in the Americas from the southeast of the United States south to Argentina and Chile, there reaching their furthest south anywhere, at 47°S latitude. Major areas with no native bamboos include Europe, north Africa, western Asia, Canada, most of Australia, and Antarctica.