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Bamboo Facts

June 15, 2012






Why Bamboo?

There is no one solution but amazingly, the simple bamboo plant can make a dramatic positive impact in many areas.


The fastest growing plant on this planet

The fastest growing woody plant on this planet. It grows one third faster than the fastest growing tree. Some species can grow up to 1 meter per day.

 A critical element in the balance of oxygen / carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Bamboo is the fastest growing canopy for the regreening of degraded areas and generates more oxygen than equivalent stand of trees. It lowers light intensity and protects against ultraviolet rays and is an atmospheric and soil purifier.

A viable replacement for wood

Bamboo is one of the strongest building materials. Bamboo’s tensile strength is 28,000 per square inch versus 23,000 for steel.

An enduring natural resource

Bamboo can be selectively harvested annually. Bamboo provided the first re-greening in Hiroshima after the atomic blast in 1945. Thomas Edison successfully used a carbonized bamboo filament in his first experiment with the light bulb.

Versatile with a short growth cycle

There are over 1000 species of bamboo on the earth. The diversity makes bamboo adaptable to many environments. It can be harvested in 3-5 years versus 10-20 years for most softwoods. Bamboo tolerates extremes of precipitation, from 30-250 inches of annual rainfall.

A critical element of the economy

Bamboo and its related industries already provide income, food and housing to over 2.2 billion people worldwide. There is a 3-5 year return on investment for a new bamboo plantation.

A renewable resource for agroforestry production.

Bamboo is a high-yield renewable natural resource: ply bamboo is now being used for wall paneling, floor tiles; bamboo pulp, paper making, briquettes for fuel, raw material for housing construction, and rebar for reinforced concrete beams.

 A natural controllable barrier

The sum of stem flow rate and canopy intercept of bamboo is 25% which means that bamboo greatly reduces rain run-off, preventing massive soil erosion. It’s anti-erosion properties create an effective watershed, stitching the soil together along fragile river banks, deforested areas

An ancient medicine

The powdered hardened secretion from bamboo is used internally to treat asthma, coughs and can be used as an aphrodisiac. Roots and leaves have also been used to treat venereal disease and cancer. Sap is said to reduce fever and ash will cure prickly heat. Current research point to bamboo’s potential in a number of medicinal uses.

Integrally involved in culture and the arts

Bamboo is a mystical plant as a symbol of strength, flexibility, tenacity, endurance and compromise. Throughout Asia, bamboo has for centuries been integral to religions ceremonies, art, music and daily life.

Among the earliest historical records, 2nd century B.C. were written on green bamboo strips strung together in a bundle with silk thread. Instruments made of bamboo create unique resonance.

A food source

Bamboo shoots provide nutrition for million of people worldwide. In Japan, the antioxidant properties of pulverized bamboo bark prevents bacterial growth and is used as a natural food preservative.

Taiwan alone consumes 80,000 tons of bamboo shoots annually constituting a $50 million industry. 

Q: What is the longevity of the bamboo?

A: Bamboo weathers to a silvery gray without treatment when subject to sunlight. In northern latitudes this can take years. In southern latitudes, it can occur in one season. Weathering does not destroy the structural integrity. 

Did you know that….?
1. There are over 1400 species of bamboo and probably many more.
2. Bamboo grows at phenomenal rates, up to a foot in a single day!
3. A mature 100’x100’ patch of clumping timber bamboo can produce enough construction materials to frame an entire house every year.
4. Certain bamboo root clumps can live for hundreds of years, providing an annual yield of materials.
5. A species of Bamboo was the first plant life to return after the atomic bombings of Japan.
6. Bamboo has one of the highest rates of photosynthesis of any plant species.
7. Certain timber bamboos have better tensile strengths than iron or steel on a strength per weight basis.
8. Bamboo is actually a specie of giant woody grass, giving new meaning to the idea of living in a grass hut.
9. Bamboo has over a thousand household and industrial uses including high quality paper.
10. Bamboo enriches soil with beneficial microorganisms.
11. Bamboo retains soil and lives on even after harvesting the culm or stems.
12. Bamboo is a nutritious food source for both humans and animals.
13. Appropriate, beneficial bamboos can be grown, harvested and treated right here on the Big Island with no negative impact to the soil or greater environment.
14. Bamboo is at the center of a sustainable eco-ethical industry worldwide and that new industrial applications are being developed every year. 


·A sixty-foot tree cut for market takes 60 years to replace. A sixty-foot bamboo cut for market takes 59 days to replace.
·Over one billion people in the world live in bamboo houses.
·The world trade in bamboo and rattan is currently estimated at 14 billion US dollars every year.
·Bamboos are giant, woody grasses which put out several full length, full diameter, naturally pre-finished, ready-to-use culms (“stems”) each year.
·A single bamboo clump can produce up to 15 kilometers of usable pole (up to 30 cm in diameter) in its lifetime.

Described as the ‘wood of the poor’ (India), ‘friend of the people’ (China) and ‘brother’ (Vietnam), bamboo is a wonder plant that grows over wide areas of Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America. Millions of people depend on this plant for their livelihood.

·The existence of a Bamboo Age has not been ruled out. ·Its use in food and cooking goes far back in history.
Bamboo’s potential for checking soil erosion and for road embankment stabilization are now becoming known. It is equally important for providing fast vegetative cover to deforested areas.

Bamboo’s role in the construction field is equally substantial. Hundreds of millions of people live in houses made from bamboo. InBangladesh, 73% of the population live in bamboo houses. It provides pillars, walls, window frames, rafters, room separators, ceilings and roofs.

In short, there are about 1,500 documented traditional uses of bamboo – from cradle to coffin.

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