Bamboo giant gras
Bamboo is a giant grass

Bamboo is a giant grass. It’s in the botanical family Poaceae–the family of grasses.

Native bamboo species grow on five continents: Africa, Asia, South America, North America, and Australia. However, the majority of bamboo species grow in East and Southeast Asia and among the islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

Bamboo has a strong, woody stem that grows in sectioned rings. The stem looks somewhat like a tree trunk and is called a culm. Culms are divided into sections called internodes. Internodes are connected one to another by nodes.

Upper nodes produce buds that develop into branches. In larger bamboos, branches divided into second branches that bear leaves.

Bamboos spread by underground stems called rhizomes. Rhizomes like culms are jointed and carry buds.

There are two types of bamboo: clumping and running. The manner in which the underground rhizome grows explains the difference between running and clumping bamboos.

Bamboos shoots emerge next to parent culms
Bamboos shoots emerge next to parent culms

The rhizomes or underground stems of running bamboos grow rapidly to varying distances from the parent plant before sending up new vertical shoots that eventually become new culms. The rhizomes of running bamboos will run and run sending up shoots until they eventually form larges patches or groves.

The underground stems of clumping bamboos grow only a short distance before sending up new stems. These form clumps that slowly expand outward around the edges of the parent plant.

Running bamboos are generally found in temperate regions such as China and Japan. They are hardy and can withstand cold winters. Clumping bamboos are generally found in tropical and subtropical regions.

Bamboo grows extremely quickly. Some species can grow up to 35 inches (90 cm) in one day.

There are over 800 different species of bamboo. Some species may grow to a height of just four to six inches (10-15 cm) tall, others may grow as tall as 160 feet (50 m).

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