105. Bamboo

In some parts of the world, bamboo is indispensable—almost every part of the plant is used.


People use bamboo for house construction and flooring. They use the pulp for making paper and bamboo briquettes for fuel. The fibers are used to make rope and twine. Young shoots can be eaten, and dried stems are used to make flutes and cups. Thomas Edison even used carbonized bamboo filaments in his lightbulbs.


A member of the grass family, bamboo grows in tropical, subtropical, and temperate areas around the world. Some types of bamboo grow very quickly, as fast as one inch per hour.


Look on the ground around the base of the bamboo trunks for horizontal stems called rhizomes that emerge just above the soil surface. These rhizomes connect the bamboo trunks you see above the ground.


In some cases, thousands of bamboo trunks that are all from one individual plant form dense forests. Trunks can be harvested without killing the plant, because rhizomes survive to sprout again. That’s a truly renewable resource!

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