Bamboo is a collective name for a large group of grasses that includes over 100 plant species and 1,000 species. They can be anything from decimeter high to giant grass of 40 meters with a wire diameter of 30 cm. Some are very fast growing. A shot can grow one meter in a day and they quickly form large stocks without either fertilizer, irrigation or pesticides.
Bamboo for houses, furniture and food
Bamboo is found in warm areas around the world with the greatest variety in China. The bamboo straw is tough and has many uses. Houses, fences, furniture and scaffolding can be built from the entire straw of giant bamboo. Shredded lengthwise, straws can be braided into baskets, saucers and bags.
In China, the native mosobambu Phyllostachys edulis is grown. It can reach 28 meters and has edible shoots. Mosobambu is the species the bamboo textile industry uses most.
Tonkin sticks are used for plant support, fishing rods and furniture. They are made by the smaller species splitcanebambu Pseudosasa amabilis .
Bamboo has a long history of papermaking in Asia and today forms a large part of the pulp for India’s paper production.
In the 2000s, it has been discovered that it is possible to make yarn of bamboo, called bamboo viscose. It is possible to process the fibers mechanically but it is very labor intensive. However, mechanical machining is more environmentally friendly than chemical. Therefore, research is now being done to find a better method of extracting the fibers.