Were you surprised to find bamboo in the grass section? No, we didn't make a mistake! Bamboo is the biggest type of grass. You can
confirm this by looking at the leaves, which are long and spear-shapedtypical of grasses. Bamboo differs in forming a woody
stem, and of course, growing much bigger than any usual kind of grass. And much faster! In fact, bamboo is among the fastest
growing plants, and in good conditions, one inch per day is an average rate. Imagine, in less than two months, a bamboo will grow as
high as an adult human!
In Asia, bamboo is put to wide range of uses, maybe more than any other plant. Bamboo shoots are good to eat, for humans as well
as pandas! But besides food, bamboo is used for paper, furniture, flooring and construction, for fuel, to make chopsticks, needles,
and weapons. Giant bamboo sections are used to carry water. In cities like Hong Kong, bamboo is used for scaffolding of large
buildings, and in China a 2,000 year old bridge is constructed entirely from bamboo.
Bamboos are widely cultivated for decorative purposes and they make excellent screens. They spread vegetatively, readily producing
new shoots from underground rhizomes. However, in areas where they are not wanted, once established their aggressive growth also
makes them difficult to eradicate. Most bamboos are tropical, but the featured species (Bambusa vulgaris) will tolerate a mild
This makes it popular among gardeners, which is probably how it ended up in Africa, far from China, its country of origin.