Guess which is the most versatile of all the plants? The one which finds its use in medicine, in water filtration, in culinary, in construction as a building material and even as a firecracker! And of course, in making paper and furniture as well. If you thought Bamboo, you guessed right! Not just humans, several animal species too benefit from Bamboo, with the Giant Panda, lemurs, rats, gorillas and elephants all using Bamboo as one of their staple diets. And if you want to learn more about it, particularly where all it is grown, its benefits to man and its cultural importance, you may want to read this article.
A part of the grass family, Bamboos can grow really quickly and up to 100 feet high in some regions, depending upon the weather and soil. Bamboo shoots retain their thickness from their initial stages of growth and develop their branches and leaves only when they reach their maximum height. Flowering is extremely rarely in a bamboo and mostly occurs towards the end of its life. While Bamboo is grown in almost all the continents, it is extremely popular in the Asian region where it is valued for its commercial benefits, as well as a cultural symbol.
Bamboo is a popular ingredient in several Asian cuisines including Chinese, Indian and Japanese, while also being used as a cooking utensil. It is also known for its healing properties and is extensively used in traditional Indian and Chinese medicine. The most common use of bamboo, however, is in construction. From simple laminates and furniture to entrench bridges, houses and skyscrapers, the construction industry swears by the humble bamboo. Thanks to ecological awareness, bamboo is looked more and more favorably as a green alternative to traditional construction materials. Apart from also being used to make paper and various types of musical instruments, very few people know that bamboo can also be used as a desalination agent and then used in the purification of water.
From ancient times, Bamboo has held a significant importance in most Asian cultures. While Japanese consider it to be sacred, the Chinese equated it with qualities like integrity and humility, which they believed every man should have. It has been historically documented that Bamboo was used as a weapon in traditional martial arts in the form of swords, sticks and bows. Before paper became a popular medium as a writing surface, bamboo was used as the material of choice in older times.
So next time you are exploring the world, do not be surprised to see bamboo's ubiquitous presence be it in food, as a building material or as medicine! Now that you know of its unique qualities, benefits and historical significance, it is easy to understand why bamboo is indeed one of the most useful plants nature has gifted to man.