Posted on January 13, 2012
While it’s got to be the trendiest raw material on the planet, bamboo has many hidden qualities that most people would never know. Here are 10 things you never knew about bamboo!
- It’s a Grass, Not a Tree: Despite bamboo’s hardwood qualities, it is actually a member of the grass family. It may not resemble most other common grasses, since it is a woody plant with numerous hardwood uses, but much like everyone’s embarrassing cousin Ned, it’s still part of the family.
- Antibacterial: Bamboo as a plant in nature is actually antibacterial, and has the ability to withstand some of the most vociferous bacteria out there. Some studies even show that products made from bamboo, such as 100% bamboo sheets, even retain those antimicrobial properties, and have the ability to kill harsh bacteria such as those that cause Strep Throat.
- Antifungal: Better hide your mushrooms because bamboo can resist all kinds of fungus. Kidding. But seriously, bamboo’s antifungal properties protect it against unwanted fungal invaders in the wild, and lead to its reputation as one of the easiest to grow plants.
- Grows 1.6 Inch Per Hour: There’s a reason bamboo is deemed rapidly renewable. It’s the fastest growing woody plant in the world! When one Japanese research team measured its growth, the Moso species grew an astounding 39 inches in a 24-hour period, which translates to just over 1.6 feet in one day. By comparison, some species of Oak grow a mere 12 inches per year! That explains why it takes them up to 120 years to reach maturity, and only takes bamboo plants about 5 years!
- Over 1000 Species: There are somewhere around 1600 different species of bamboo, all split up into two different subgroups. Despite ancient details and notes on the plants, the specific taxonomy and classification of bamboo has given botanists trouble for decades. The last new species of bamboo was discovered in 2007 in North America, and the only way to really classify the plant is by comparing the flowers. The reason this causes so many problems is that bamboo plants can go years without flowering at all.
- Poisonous Raw Bamboo Shoots: Do you ever wonder why humans can get great nutrients out of bamboo, but never eat the shoots raw? The raw shoots, or culms, of the bamboo plant are actually considered poisonous for human consumption. Don’t worry, your bamboo cutting boards and steamers are perfectly safe for use, and boiled bamboo shoots are a safe and healthy addition to your diet!
- Produces 35% More Oxygen Than Hardwood Trees: If you took two identical acreage plots and planted hardwoods in one and bamboo in the other, the bamboo plot would put out 35% more oxygen into the air than the hardwood plant. With such great levels of clean O2, it’s no wonder people all over the globe are turning to bamboo plantations as a way to battle air pollution and manmade climate change.
- Easily Grows Pesticide and Fertilizer Free: Bamboo not only resists bacteria and fungi, but also pests! This makes it one of the only cash crops that can grow and flourish without the use of any pesticides or fertilizers whatsoever. That’s clean living for your health, your skin and your environment!
- Tensile Strength Surpasses Steel: When people say bamboo is stronger than steel, they’re referring to its tensile strength. Tensile strength refers to a material’s ability to withstand stress. Bamboo’s tensile strength is 28,000 per square inch, while steel rates only 23,000 per square inch. That’s why bamboo is used as a building material in areas often wrought with earthquakes.
- Grows Everywhere but Antarctica: It’s relatively common knowledge that some types of bamboo grow like a weed – shows up in places you don’t want it, shoots up quickly, and keeps coming back. Bamboo is able to adapt easily to changing temperatures, climates, and soil conditions and can grow just about everywhere – except Antarctica. Native bamboo grows on every other continent!