Thursday, 01 September 2011 10:11

Anatomy of The Bamboo Plant

The anatomy of a bamboo plant is quite unique.  In this short article we will discuss both the morphology as well as the physiology of the bamboo plant.

Rhizomes: Energy Gatherer for Rapid Growth

The rhizome of the bamboo plant grows much like roots.  Rhizomes travel underground in search of new territory for the plant to inhabit.  As the rhizomes travel, they collect much of the energy and nutrients needed for the bamboo plant's incredibly rapid growth. How Rhizomes differ from roots is that when they reach a good point in the soil, they can produce either a new culm, which is the pole like feature we associate the bamboo plant with, or a bud. Rhizomes will eventually connect most all bamboo plants in an area.  In fact, if one bamboo plant was left in an area long enough to inhabited the entire space, all of the seemingly separate bamboo culms would in fact be just one giant organism.

Rhizome in Action

Another interesting point about rhizomes is that of the hundreds of bamboo species, we see only two types of Rhizome patterns.  Bamboo plants are either of the running or clumping type.  This distinction comes from how the rhizome of the plant interacts with its environment.  Clumping bamboo tends to have short and thick rhizomes that travel a very small distance before sending up a new culm to grow.  What is produced is what just as its title suggest: a giant clump of bamboo.

Running bamboo, on the other hand, is quite the invasive species by nature.  It can send complex mazes of "runner" rhizomes everywhere searching for viable locations to grow.  Runners have been documented to travel over 20 feet in a single season underground.  For this reason, removing an unwanted patch of running bamboo can be quite difficult and may even require excavation to fully remove the plant from the area.

Clumping bamboo:

Clumping Bamboo

Running Bamboo:

Running Bamboo


Roots: The Bamboo Anchor

While bamboo roots do serve some function of nutrient storing, their main function is to anchor the plant down.  The roots of most bamboo species are quite unique looking, looking more like aquatic life than plant life.  They are generally quite symmetrical and uniform in shape and size.

Bamboo Root


Rhizomes + Bamboo Roots = A winning erosion control combination.

The complex maze of rhizomes and roots of the bamboo plant deliver excellent erosion control.  Add this to the fact that bamboo plants need not be killed to be harvested, and what you get is a highly sustainable, rapidly renewing resource.  Here at Renew bamboo in Reno, nv we like to build things with it.

Culms: The Signature of the Bamboo Plant

The bamboo culm is the term used to describe the bamboo shoot itself. It is separated by nodes, the generally horizontal divides between each "internode" of the culm.

Bamboo Culm

In the culm of the plant we see the greatest variation of the bamboo species.  Sizes, shapes, colors, even odors can vary greatly from species to species.  The most popular species for use in home lumber applications is Moso Bamboo.

Last modified on Wednesday, 09 November 2011 08:07