Bamboo, a type of grass, is native to all continents except Antarctica and modern Europe. Diverse in habit, form and growth, some 1,200 species of bamboo can be found in a variety of habitats, from sea level to mountains.
Bamboos number 1,200 species, placed into 90 similar groups called genera (singular genus). Members of the grass family, they range from tall timber-like plants to short ground covers.
Bamboos grow in both temperate and tropical regions of the globe, from 50 degree North latitude to 47 degrees South latitude. Clumping tropical bamboos are in stark contrast to the running, invasive-rooting types more commonly native to temperate regions. There is a bamboo species adapted from coastal lowland to mountainous habitats.
The Asia-Pacific, which includes Australia, is home to roughly 800 bamboo species. In China alone there are 400 native species.
North and South America combined contain about 500 species of bamboos, and demonstrate the greatest diversity in bamboo native habitats.
Many bamboo native to the Asia/Pacific region also occur in the tropical areas of Africa. There are 10 species on the African mainland, while the island of Madagascar is home to 11 native bamboo species.
Although no species of bamboo extant today are indigenous to Europe, it is worth noting that bamboo is speculated by some paleobotanists to have grown in Europe until the last Ice Age.
- "Bamboo for Gardens"; Ted Jordan Meredith; 2001
- The American Bamboo Society
bamboo, plant origins, Poaceae, bamboo distribution
About this Author
James Burghardt has written for The Public Garden, Docent Educator, numerous non-profit newsletters and for Learn2Grow.com's comprehensive plant database. He holds a Master's degree in Public Horticulture from the University of Delaware and studied horticulture and biology in Australia at Murdoch University and the University of Melbourne's Burnley College.