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Bambusa vulgaris - Schrad. ex J.C.Wendl.

Common Name Common Bamboo
Family Poaceae
USDA hardiness 9-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Riversides and open forests in Yunnan[ 266 ].
Range Northern and western S. America - Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia. Ecuador, Venezuela.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care
Half Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Bambusa vulgaris Common Bamboo


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Bambusa vulgaris Common Bamboo
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Summary

Common bamboo or Bambusa vulgaris is a large, tropical, spineless bamboo that can grow up to 20 m tall and up to 10 cm across at the base. It has distinctive triangular culm sheath with hairy edges. Among all other bamboo species, common bamboo is one of the largest and most easily recognize. It has a wide range of uses. The young shoots are edible when cooked. The stems are used as treatment for rheumatism while the shoots are used against abscesses and malaria. The bark is astringent and used to stimulate blood flow in the pelvic area especially during menstruation. The leaves are used as treatment for heart problems and malaria as well. It is also boiled and used in bath to ease fever. Common bamboo is used in erosion control on sloping ground. The stems are used for light construction, handicrafts, and are a good source of fibre for papermaking.


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Bambusa vulgaris is an evergreen Bamboo growing to 20 m (65ft) by 10 m (32ft) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 9 and is not frost tender. The flowers are pollinated by Wind.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (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.

Synonyms

Arundarbor blancoi (Steud.) Kuntze Arundarbor fera (Oken) Kuntze Arundarbor monogyna (Blanco) Kuntze

Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible portion: Shoots. Young shoots - cooked[ 46 , 301 ]. They can be eaten with rice[ 301 ]. The shoots are 5 - 9cm in diameter[ 266 ]. A decoction of the growing point of the plant, mixed with the roots of Job?s tears (Coix lacryma-jobi) gives a refreshing drink[ 299 ]. The shoots remain buttercup yellow after cooking. Chemical composition of young shoots per 100 g edible portion: Water 88-90 g, Protein 1.8-2.6 g, Fat 4.1-7.2 g, Carbohydrates 0-0.4 g, Fibre 1.1-1.2 g, Ash 0.8-0.9 g, Ca 22.8-28.6 mg, P 27.5-37 mg, Fe 1.1-1.4 mg, Vitamin C 0-3.1 mg.

Medicinal Uses

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The stems are used as a remedy for rheumatism[ 348 ]. The shoots are used to treat abscesses and malaria[ 348 ]. The bark is astringent and emmenagogue[ 413 ]. The leaves are used to treat heart problems and malaria. They are boiled and used in a bath to ease fevers[ 348 ]. A decoction of boiled leaves is used by women as a 'clean-out' for dilation and curettage, and also to aid the expulsion of the afterbirth[ 348 ]. The leaves are boiled as a hot tea , which induces profuse perspiration in treating a fever[ 348 ]. The sap is used to treat fever and haematuria[ 413 ].

Other Uses

Other uses rating: High (4/5). Other Uses: The split stems are used for making brooms, fences, roofs, roof tiles, baskets etc[413]. The acrid smoke produced from burning the stem is used as a mosquito repellent[348].The stems serve as poles to support banana plants[299].The working and machining properties of the stems are poor. The stems are not straight, not easy to split, and inflexible, but they are thick-walled and initially strong. The canes have a high starch content, making them more susceptible to powder post beetle and dry wood termite than many other bamboos (such as Dendrocalamus giganteus), therefore they are not normally used for long term constructions[299, 310, 418]. They are used for light construction, fences, tool handles, handicrafts, irrigation pipes, lattices, bridges, housing, furniture, boat masts etc. They are a good source of pulp for making paper[299, 310, 418].The canes are used for fuel[299]. Agroforestry Uses: Used for shelterbelts and erosion control on sloping ground and stream banks[418]. Planted as a barrier and marker along boundaries[413].

Cultivation details

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

Common bamboo is a plant of the moist, lowland tropics. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 22 - 28c, but can tolerate 9 - 32c[ 418 ]. The stems die back to the ground if exposed to frost, but if the frost was not too severe the plant may resprout from the rhizomes[ 418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,200 - 2,500mm, but tolerates 700 - 4,500mm[ 418 ]. Requires a moist, fertile, humus rich soil in full sun or dappled shade in warm humid conditions[ 200 , 302 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 6, tolerating 4.5 - 6.5[ 418 ]. Widely grown throughout the tropics for its many uses and as an ornamental, the plant sometimes escapes from cultivation and becomes naturalized. It forms extensive monospecific stands, excluding other plant species[ 413 ]. It is classified as 'Invasive' in some Pacific Islands[ 299 , 305 ]. Harvesting normally starts 3 years after planting with full production being reached after 6 - 8 years. Selective cutting of stems 2-year-old or older is recommended. In tropical Africa it has been recommended to selectively harvest one half to two-thirds of the adult stems on a clump every 3 - 4 years. Young shoots for consumption should be harvested in the first week of their emergence[ 299 ]. Annual yields of up to 20 tonnes (dry weight) of the canes per hectare have been achieved[ 299 ]. 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 ]. Bamboos in general are usually monocarpic, living for many years before flowering, then flowering and seeding profusely for a period of 1 - 3 years before usually dying. Flowering is uncommon in Bambusa vulgaris. When a stem flowers, it produces a large number of flowers, but no fruits. Low pollen viability due to irregular meiosis seems to be one of the reasons for the absence of fruiting. Eventually the stem dies, but the clump usually survives[ 299 ]. Production: Offsets can produce mature clumps in 7 years. They grow very quickly. Haulms can grow 4 m high in 2 weeks. Bambusa vulgaris 'Wamin' - Dwarf Buddha Belly Bamboo is a dwarf bamboo perfect by a pond but will fit just about any landscape. Swollen attractive internodes to 3m. USDA zone 9-12.

Propagation

Seed - surface sow in containers as soon as it is ripe, preferably at a temperature around 20c. Do not allow the compost to dry out. Germination usually takes place fairly quickly so long as the seed is of good quality, though it can take 3 - 6 months. 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. Plants only flower at intervals of many years and so seed is rarely available. 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 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Common bamboo or Bambusa vulgaris. Other Names: Awi ampel, Bamboo, Bambu kuning, Buloh kuning, Buloh minyak, Daisan-chiku, Domar, Jajang ampel, Jajang gading, Kabaloan, Kauayan-kiling, Murangi, Pai mai, Pau, Phai-bongkham, Phai-luang, Po-o, Pring ampel, Pring legi, Pring tutul, Russei kaew, S'ang kh'am, Tamelang, Wanet.

Found In

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

Found In: Africa, America, Asia, Australia, Burkina Faso, Burma, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Central Africa, Central African Republic, CAR, Central America, China, Congo, Costa Rica, Cote d'Ivoire, East Africa, East Timor, Fiji, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guin?e, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Hawaii, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Laos, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nauru, Nepal, Nigeria, Northeastern India, Pacific, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Philippines, SE Asia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Southern Africa, South America, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Uganda, USA, Vanuatu, Vietnam, West Africa, Zambia.

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.

Culms and branches root very readily, it naturalizes forming monospecific stands along river banks, roadsides and in open ground. B. vulgaris has the potential to invade relative unaltered forests moving along streams.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Least Concern

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Bambusa bambosGiant Thorny Bamboo33
Bambusa blumeanaSpiny Bamboo. Spiny bamboo, Thorny bamboo20
Bambusa heterostachyaMalay Dwarf Green00
Bambusa multiplexHedge Bamboo, Chinese Goddess Bamboo20
Bambusa nutansNodding Bamboo, Mai bong20
Bambusa odashimaeOdashimae Bamboo40
Bambusa oldhamiiRyoku-Chiku, Giant Timber Bamboo, Oldham's Bamboo20
Bambusa polymorphaBurmese bamboo, Jama Betua20
Bambusa tuldaBengal Bamboo. Spineless Indian bamboo20
Chimonobambusa marmoreaKan-Chiku10
Chimonobambusa pachystachysThorny Bamboo10
Chimonobambusa purpurea 10
Chimonobambusa quadrangularisSquare Bamboo20
Chimonobambusa szechuanensis 10

 

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Schrad. ex J.C.Wendl.

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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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