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  Greentop - About Bamboo



Bamboo has often been called the ‘wonder plant’ because of its phenomenal growth characteristics and ability to renew itself each year. Bamboo is 83% more efficient than a deciduous tree in its ability to photosynthesize and clean the environment. It is also incredibly beautiful. Anyone who has been near a grove of bamboo is touched by its serene presence and architectural appeal.

Bamboo grows in two ways: Clumping bamboos reproduce by developing new shoots on the outside margin of the parent plant while Running bamboos send out roots or rhizomes into the earth. Some running bamboos are modest growers, while others can be extremely vigorous and invasive. Natural or physical containment barriers are often used to control the growth of the running bamboo.

The growth pattern of bamboo differs from most woody plants. Once a year, usually in spring, new growth occurs as a bamboo shoot. The shoot emerges from the ground and reaches its full height in 6-8 weeks. In Asia and the Pan Americas, some bamboos attain heights of 100 feet or more. You can literally watch some bamboos grow 1 ½ inches per hour or about 3 feet in one day.

The potential size of a bamboo at maturity is genetically inherent and may take 10 years to reach when starting a bamboo grove. Accelerating the growth rate of bamboo to its full height can be accomplished by providing optimum growing conditions for the plant. You can also purchase a larger the starter plant. The more root system the plant has, the more quickly it will establish a mature grove. A #5 container plant will cover an area of 10’ x 10’ in 3 years and mature in about 7 years. A running bamboo in a #1 container will cover an area 10’ x 10’ square in about 5 years and mature in about 10 years.

Bamboo is a member of the grass family and likes a well-drained fertile soil, neutral in pH (6.5) and high organic content. Bamboo does not appreciate planting where the soil is wet for extended periods of time and will not survive in a marsh or bog.

Flowering is a fascinating and often misunderstood process. Flowering is a genetic part of a bamboo’s life cycle, which can vary dramatically depending on the species. Some bamboos flower every few years while others flower every 100 years. The widely-held perception that flowering results in the demise of bamboo is untrue. Regeneration occurs by seedling development or after a few seasons, with the emergence of new, non-flowering shoots. The only way the new varieties of bamboo occur is through genetic mutation of the seed produced during flowering. Seed collected from Fargesia nitida by a Russian expedition to South Gansu Province in 1884-1886 resulted in the two major cultivars Fargesia nitida and Fargesia murieliae. Fargesia nitida is currently in flower in Europe and the U.S. We have stopped selling Fargesia nitida and now offer many new generation cultivars. These Fargesia introductions may not flower for 100 years or more!

GreentopBAMBOO IS...
Bamboo consists largely of silica, which is not desirable or palatable to insects and deer, and inhibits diseases.

Most bamboos are evergreen in temperate and tropical climates.

With 70 genera and 2400 known species, bamboo adapts as well in sandy soil as it does in clay. Heights range from 2 inches to 100 feet. Culms can be black, blue, yellow, pink, red, brown or green. Leaves may be green, variegated green and white or green and yellow.

The Switch Cane Bamboo (Arundinaria gigantea) is native to the Southeast region of the country. Some of us remember using Switch Cane for fishing poles when we were children.

Bamboo is part of the fabric of everyday life in Eastern cultures and the Pan Americas. Bamboo shoots are eaten as part of many different dishes. Bamboo is used extensively as a construction material and is still used as scaffolding in Asia. In America it is revered for its hardiness and evergreen elegance. In the U.S. and Europe, bamboo culms are being used more and more as a green alternative to wood for flooring and furniture.

All bamboos are edible. The Phyllostachys are most commonly cultivated for eating because the shoots are large in diameter. The best choice is Phyllostachys dulcis (Sweetshoot Bamboo) which has a sweet, nutty flavor with no trace of bitterness.