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Bambusa bambos - (L.) Voss

Common Name Giant Thorny Bamboo
Family Poaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling
Habitats Found most abundantly in mixed moist deciduous forest, and not so commonly in mixed dry deciduous forest and in semi-evergreen forest, growing best along river valleys and in other moist conditions, on hills at elevations up to 1,000 metres[ 310 ].
Range E. Asia - southern China, Indian subcontinent, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (5 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Bambusa bambos Giant Thorny Bamboo

Bambusa bambos Giant Thorny Bamboo


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Giant Thorny Bamboo, Bambusa bambos, is a large, clumping bamboo characterized by spikes present on its bright green stems. It is fast growing and can reach up to 30 m high. It is used as food, medicine, and various other purposes. Young shoots of this plant is cooked and eaten as vegetable. The whole plant contains high level of silica and is used in Ayurvedic medicine. Different plant parts also exhibit medicinal properties. The root is used for joint pain and general debility; the leaves against menstrual pain and worms, and to strengthen stomach function; the young sprouts against nausea, indigestion, and wound infection; and the plant juice for osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. B. bambos is often planted as wind-breaks around farms. The stems have wide range of uses and leaves are used for thatching.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Bambusa bambos is an evergreen Bamboo growing to 30 m (98ft) by 25 m (82ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Wind.
Suitable for: medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid and very alkaline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Arundarbor agrestis (Lour.) Kuntze Arundarbor arundinacea (Retz.) Kuntze Arundarbor bambos (L.) Kunt

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Sap  Seed  Shoots
Edible Uses: Drink

Edible portion: Shoots, Seeds, Sap, Cereal. Young shoots - cooked[ 46 , 301 ]. They are often cooked in two changes of water to remove the bitterness[ 301 ]. The sugary sap is made into a drink[ 301 ]. Seed[ 301 ]. Chemical composition: Seeds per 100 g edible portion. Water 8 g, Protein 13.5 g, carbohydrates 73 g, fibre 1 g, fat 0.4 g, ash 1.7 g, calcium 87 mg, P 163 mg. Shoots per 100 g edible portion. Water 87-88 g, protein 3.9-4.4 g, fat 0.5 g, carbohydrates 5.5 g, fibre 1 g, ash 1 g, Ca 20-24 mg, P 40-65 mg, Fe 0.1-0.4 mg Vit A 76 IU, Vit B1 0.16 mg, Vit B2 0.05 mg Vit C 0.3-0.5 mg The energy value is about 185 kJ/100g. Young shoots contain HCN so should be cooked.

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antibilious  Antispasmodic  Aphrodisiac  Astringent  Digestive  Emmenagogue  Skin  Stomachic

The plant contains high levels of silica and is used in many ways in Ayurvedic medicine[ 254 ]. The root is astringent and cooling[ 254 ]. It is used to treat joint pain and general debility[ 254 ]. The leaves are antispasmodic and emmenagogue[ 254 ]. They are taken internally to stimulate menstruation and to help relieve period pain[ 254 ]. They are also taken to tone and strengthen stomach function; to expel worms; and have the reputation of being aphrodisiac[ 254 ]. The young sprouts, harvested as they emerge from below soil level, are taken internally to relieve nausea, indigestion and wind[ 254 ]. They are applied externally as a poultice to help drain infected wounds[ 254 ]. The juice of the plant is rich in silica and is taken internally to aid in the strengthening of cartilage in conditions such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis[ 254 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Basketry  Biomass  Containers  Fibre  Furniture  Paper  Shelterbelt  Soil stabilization  String  Wood

Other uses rating: Very High (5/5). Agroforestry Uses: One of the best bamboos for windy sites due to the strength of the culms, it is often planted to form wind-breaks around farms - when planted as a hedge around a farm or field, it requires little care[ 310 , 418 ]. Planted along rivers in order to check floods[ 310 ]. Other Uses The stems have a huge range of applications, being manufactured in different ways to make items as diverse as scaffolding, rafts, furniture, paper and dozens of other items[ 254 , 454 ]. They are used to make the sails of ships, as well as their masts and rigging. Almost every article of furniture in houses, including mats, screens, chairs, tables, bedsteads and bedding, can be made from the stems. Household utensils, and even coarse underclothing, are made of this material. The whole stems are employed in shipbuilding, the construction of bridges, water pipes etc. Buckets, pitchers, flasks, and cups, are made from sections of the stems. Baskets, boxes, fans, hats, and jackets are made from split bamboo stems. Ropes and Chinese paper are made from the fibres in the stems. A Chinese umbrella consists of bamboo paper, with a bamboo handle and split bamboo for a frame[ 454 ]. All sorts of agricultural implements, appliances for spinning cotton and wool or for reeling silk are often constructed entirely from bamboo. Very many articles of household use or decoration made from bamboo have become articles of commerce. So many and varied are the uses that it is possible to mention here only a part of them![ 454 ]. Traditionally, when making paper, the stems are split into lengths of 90 - 120cm and placed in a layer in a tank. This is covered with lime, and alternate layers of bamboo and lime are so placed until the tank is full. Water is run in to cover the whole, and this is then left for three or four months, by which time the bamboo has become rotten. The soft bamboo is pounded in a mortar into a pulp, mixed with water, and then poured on square, sieve-like molds. The sheets are allowed to dry on the mold, then placed against a hot wall, and finally exposed to the sun[ 454 ]. The leaves are used for packing, as a filling for mattresses etc[ 454 ].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Industrial Crop: Biomass  Management: Managed Multistem  Minor Global Crop  Other Systems: Multistrata  Other Systems: Strip intercrop

A plant of the humid tropical lowlands, where it can be found at elevation up to 1,000 metres[ 310 ]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 22 - 30°c, but can tolerate 8 - 36°c[ 418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,200 - 2,500mm, but tolerates 700 - 4,500mm[ 418 ]. Prefers a position in dappled shade, but also grows in full sun[ 418 ]. Grows best in a fertile, moist soil[ 454 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 4.5 - 6.5, tolerating 4 - 7[ 418 ]. A fast-growing species, it forms a clump of stems up to about 5 metres tall within 7 years from seed and reaches full size after about 20 years, by which time there will be 25 - 50, perhaps even 100 culms[ 310 ] Twelve-year-old clumps are regarded as mature[ 310 ]. Bamboos have an interesting method of growth. Each plant produces a number of new stems annually - these stems grow to their maximum height in their first year of growth, subsequent growth in the stem being limited to the production of new side branches and leaves. In the case of some mature tropical species the new stem could be as much as 30 metres tall, with daily increases in height of 30cm or more during their peak growth time. This makes them some of the fastest-growing species in the world[ K ]. Undisturbed clumps are almost impenetrable after some years because of the interlacing thorny branches[ 310 ]. The plant flowers gregariously over a region at intervals of 16 - 45 years. A complete flowering period of the whole clump takes as long as 3 years. This flowering is followed by the profuse production of seed, after which the old clump dies[ 310 ]. Production: A clump from seed reaches about 5 m high in 7 years. It achieves full growth of 25-50 stems in 20 years. A 1000 seeds weigh 11.6 g. Flowering occurs between 16-45 years.

Carbon Farming

  • Industrial Crop: Biomass  Three broad categories: bamboos, resprouting woody plants, and giant grasses. uses include: protein, materials (paper, building materials, fibers, biochar etc.), chemicals (biobased chemicals), energy - biofuels
  • Management: Managed Multistem  Regularly removing some multiple stems. A non-A non-destructive management systems maintaining the soil organic carbon.
  • Minor Global Crop  These crops are already grown or traded around the world, but on a smaller scale than the global perennial staple and industrial crops, The annual value of a minor global crop is under $1 billion US. Examples include shea, carob, Brazil nuts and fibers such as ramie and sisal.
  • Other Systems: Multistrata  Multistrata agroforests feature multiple layers of trees often with herbaceous perennials, annual crops, and livestock.
  • Other Systems: Strip intercrop  Tree crops grown in rows with alternating annual crops.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - it has a short viability of less than 3 months in normal storage[ 310 ]. Surface sow in containers as soon as it is ripe, preferably at a temperature around 20°c. Do not allow the compost to dry out. Germination rates in excess of 80% can be expected, so long as the seed is of good quality, with the seed sometimes sprouting in as little as 5 - 10 days, though it can take 3 - 6 months[ 310 ]. Prick out the seedlings into containers when they are large enough to handle and grow on in a lightly shaded place until large enough to plant out. Division as new growth commences[ 220 ]. Take divisions with at least three canes in the clump, trying to cause as little root disturbance to the main plant as possible. Grow them on in light shade in pots of a high fertility sandy medium. Mist the foliage regularly until plants are established. Plant them out into their permanent positions when a good root system has developed, which can take a year or more[ 200 ]. Plants can be propagated vegetatively by rhizome, culm and branch cuttings. The propagules are raised in a nursery and after they have produced roots and developed rhizomes they are planted out in the field during the rainy season in pits filled with a mixture of compost and soil[ 310 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Giant Thorny Bamboo, Bambusa bambos. Other Names: Bambu duri, Bans, Biduru, Bonga-vedura, Kalak, Kanta bans, Ketua, Kotoha, Kya-kat-wa, Moongil, Naw mai phai paa, Phai-pa, Phaix pax, Pring ori, Russei khlei, Russei prei, Schee, Thorny bamboo, Tre gai rung, Tre laf ngaf,

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Found In: Asia, Australia, Burma, Cambodia, China, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, North-eastern India, Pacific, Philippines, SE Asia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Possibly invasive in Cuba

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed.

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Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment


(L.) Voss

Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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