In the year 1815, a German botanist categorized bamboo as a distinct plant in the family of grasses. According to this expert, bamboo is the only type of grass that can diversify into a forest on its own.
Besides this fact mentioned above, some other things also make this exceptional grass very interesting. But first, let’s look into the history of bamboo.
The word, bamboo is said to originate from Malay, which is the main national language spoken by Malaysian and Indonesian people. However, the grass itself originated from China. This is the place where the first use of bamboo was recorded. However, many other parts of the world have adopted it as a plant because of its diverse use cases.
At the time of this writing, bamboo is known to be grown successfully in different parts of Asia, Africa, Europe, north and south America. Interestingly, there are over 1400 species of bamboo that exist in the world today.
Historical Uses of Bamboo
Some of the historical uses of bamboo material include the following –
Traditional medicine – in India and China, a certain substance called Tabasheer which is found in bamboo is used in Tibetan medicine. Its properties include febrifuge, antispasmodic and astringent. According to history, this is used in treating health issues like tuberculosis, sinus congestion and sore throat. Bamboo extracts can still be found in health food shops today.
Carved artwork – art is one of the major things that represent the culture of a people. From Japan to China, France, Taiwan and South Africa, you’ll find different types of bamboo arts and crafts. Just search for Japanese bamboo arts and you’ll see what I mean.
Local music instruments – music is another distinct form of art that represents the life and culture of people around the world. To make the best of music, many artists seek to make unique instruments that suit them in very unique and original ways. Some of the traditional music instruments made of bamboo include jaw harp, rattle, stamping pipes and nose flute.
Both Indian, Chinese and Indonesian people are known to make good bamboo music instruments.
Weapons – both in times of war and other times, bamboo has been proven to be very useful in making strong weapons. From one country to the other, there has been a history of people making weapons like staff, staves, sword, bows and arrows. Please note that these weapons often bear different names from one country to the other.
Livestock food – whether in Australia, Cambodia or India, many people have devised means of using bamboo as livestock feed. In specific terms, both cows and some species of goats do love bamboo feed.
The interesting part is that a growing number of people are finding more ways of using bamboo made feed to feed their animals more than the historic uses.
Bedding – in many different parts of Africa, people have been using strong bamboo stems to make beds for young and old. Back in those days, they used to combine this type of bamboo bed with some heating arrangements in cold seasons. And then in recent times, some people are making bedding products out of bamboo.
Irrigation systems – in many parts of Asia where small-scale farming is prevalent, irrigation is very important. For them to sustain farming activities in these areas, they often use bamboo irrigation systems to move water to those specific farming areas around canals, rivers or streams.
Within those areas where bamboo grows naturally without any human efforts, this serves as a free natural resource for year-round farming.
For each of these historical use cases, every part of the world grows, makes and refines bamboo material in a way that is peculiar to their culture. In other words, the way it is used in Europe may not be the same way it is being used in Africa or some parts of Asia.
According to some vegetarian and botany experts, bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants in the world. But the main thing is that its growth often varies from one species to the other.
While some grow about four to six inches before putting branches, there are some others that grow up to 130 feet tall. When its maximum height is reached in terms of maturity, it begins to grow stronger branches.
One general agreement is that this plant grows faster in tropical and rainforest areas. Given the above-stated fact, some people do get into strategic planting of bamboo because of diverse bamboo products that can be made out of it.
Core Benefits of Bamboo
It Is Very Easy To Plant
There is one great reason for the popularity of this exceptional plant around many parts of the world. It grows and thrives in diverse soil types. Having shallow roots also makes it very easy to harvest when it is time to use it. And as noted earlier, this can grow naturally around water-rich areas without costly human efforts.
Long Life Span
As long as the soil is fertile enough, the life span is practically longer than what is obtainable from other types of plants. When planted and maintained properly at the initial stage, bamboo can continue to produce useful materials for over 50 years. And the interesting part is that younger shoots will continue to grow around the ones originally planted without much additional maintenance efforts or cost.
This is why a lot of people are now investing to plant bamboo on a commercial scale. Interestingly, the only type of tree or plant that comes close in terms of life span is the oil palm tree.
It Has Diverse Use Cases
Just when you think you have seen it all, a little further research will surprise you about the diverse uses of bamboo from construction to bamboo toothbrushes. Looking at areas like general housing, construction, traditional medicine, arts, furniture, agriculture and even renewable energy – it is very easy to find some other interesting use cases beyond the ones you may have thought about now.
This is just a brief history of bamboo. Further research will reveal even more interesting facts and stories about bamboo.