Bamboo, although easily confused with a tree, is actually a member of the grass family. A perennial plant that can be difficult to control when left unattended, bamboo is often cultivated for its ornamental value. Bamboo is also used as a building material, as food and even in the production of weapons.
Bamboo has around 1,200 different species both in the wild and sold as an ornamental plant. It comes in two varieties: clumping and running. Clumping bamboo grows in clumps, as its name indicates, and spreads slowly when left to grow freely. Bamboo that clumps has a large root system. Running bamboo spreads quickly in dense growth, supported by thick, rhizome-based roots. Rhizome root often runs 100 feet away from the mother plant.
Bamboo plants grow tall and slender. The largest species can reach up to 120 feet in height. The stem of bamboo is hollow and is often very strong. This stem is marked by sections, which are called nodes. Leaf blades shoot out from branches, which appear from the node area. Bamboo sometimes produces a fruit or nut, which looks in size and shape like that of an apple.
Bamboo is used as a food source in Eastern countries. In Hindu culture, bamboo is eaten with honey after it has been roasted. Bamboo, because of its strength, is a building material for houses and is utilized in furniture. The fibers of the bamboo plant are also used for rope, and, in recent years, for eco-friendly clothing.
Bamboo as Pest
Bamboo that has been left to grow as an ornamental plant without control can become a growing pest. In areas where bamboo is not native, the plant becomes a danger to native plants, as their aggressiveness gives them advantage over native plants. Habitat is quickly claimed by the bamboo plant, reducing the biodiversity of the area.
Bamboo is difficult to control once established. Control starts with the removal of as much root mass and rhizome of the mother plant as possible. Root mass left in the ground will regrow, even when the blade is removed from the surface. Power equipment may be necessary to remove enough dirt to kill off the bamboo.