In Dance Rose and other villagers roll out a bamboo dance floor for a night of dancing under the stars.
Stronger than hardwood, and touted as the fastest growing plant on the planet (some species grow 1-3 feet a day), bamboo is a highly renewable resource. Resilient and persistent, bamboo is reported to have survived the bombing of Hirsohima, according to the Florida Caribbean Chapter of the American Bamboo Society.
But that's not all. Bamboo consumes carbon dioxide and soil toxins and returns 30 percent more oxygen to the atmosphere than trees. Because of its rapid growth and root structure, it can stabilize soil destroyed by overgrazing and over-building.
And if all that weren't enough, bamboo is just plain beautiful.
Native to all continents except Europe and Antarctica, bamboo grows in climates both tropical and frigid. There are estimated to be more than 1200 species worldwide, with about 450 of them in the Americas, according to Gilberto Cortes, Regional Director of Bamboo in the Americas. Only one species, Arundinaria gigantea, commonly known as Cane Brake or Cane Reed, is native to the United States.
Civilization increasingly encroaches on bamboo forests and plantations. Make sure the bamboo products you purchase are from sustainable plantations that do not destroy habitat or endanger other species.For more information on bamboo, its uses, and the people and creatures who depend on it, visit these sites:
- International Network for Bamboo and Rattan, for bamboo as housing construction material and as a way out of poverty, especially for women
- Bamboo Web
- World Bamboo Organization
- American Bamboo Society, lots of info on non-native plants, where to find them, and how to grow them
- 1000 Things Made of Bamboo, a sometimes repetitive list, has lots of images
- Wayne's Word, comprehensive scientific data presented in a lively format including good images and fun bamboo trivia
- WSU Extension Bamboo Research, studies bamboo as food crop (bamboo shoots) and as construction material crop (bamboo poles)
- Wikipedia on Bamboo, for general info, good images, and more links
- Environmental Bamboo Foundation, for environmental data as well as some cool graphics showing how to build a bamboo house and a bamboo shelter (it appears they have them backwards, however, with the house on the shelter link and the shelter on the house link); site includes a pharmacopoeia of ways some cultures use bamboo as medicine