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-shaped—typical 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 frost.

This makes it popular among gardeners, which is probably how it ended up in Africa, far from China, its country of origin.

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