NATURE’S WONDER PLANT: BAMBOO
Fascinating Bamboo Facts
As you read this article, compare the strengths and qualities of bamboo to those traits you find in yourself.
by Jeanette JOY Fisher
Bamboo, a plant that has been used for centuries in various nations around the world in a dazzling array of situations, has only relatively recently been rediscovered by the modern construction trades. Bamboo uses are continuing to grow as builders and designers learn more about this amazing plant.
One of its primary advantages is its incredible rate of growth. Bamboo grows faster than any other plant, and once it’s established, a bamboo plant will send up shoots that can reach their full height in just one growing season. Bamboo is also amazingly hardy and aggressive in its growth habits. In fact, once a bamboo plant has gotten a toehold in an area, it’s very difficult to eradicate it. To show how hardy bamboo actually is, it was bamboo plants that first began to sprout in the devastation area that surrounded the atomic bombing site in Hiroshima in 1945.
Bamboo’s strength is also legendary. As far back as the 1200s, Italian explorer Marco Polo wrote about seeing Chinese fishermen use ropes woven from bamboo to tow their boats. For centuries, people around the world have used bamboo to create a staggering variety of products, including desalination filters, musical instruments, paper, fishing poles, scaffolding, wind chimes, and thousands of others.
In the Far East, bamboo was thought to possess spiritual qualities, as well. It was seen to represent long life in China, and the Japanese surrounded their Shinto shrines with bamboo forests to protect their holy places from evil spirits.
The Chinese thought that receiving a living bamboo plant as a gift would bring good fortune, and bamboo has definitely lived up to its reputation. A bamboo plant requires very little care and will continue to thrive on just one or two inches of water a year. It will also quickly sprout if you break off a stem and put it in water. All you have to do is change its water every three days until the roots become well enough established to plant in some soil. Then you can share your good fortune with someone else. Very few plants are as forgiving and prolific as bamboo.
The uses for bamboo seem to be endless, and modern builders and designers are constantly coming up with new uses for this amazing and versatile plant, which means that bamboo will surely continue to be an important construction material for centuries to come.
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