If you look at a blade of grass and a bamboo tree they remind you of a mouse and an elephant. But unlike those animals, the grass and the bamboo belong to the same family. They are brothers! The bamboo is the largest member of the grass family.
It grows in Asia, South America and Africa. It has about 500 different varieties. They all have smooth, hollow jointed stems with a strong watertight partition at each joint. While most flower every year, there are some that flower only three or four times in a 100 years.
Their flowers are like that of grains or grasses. The fruit is like grain and in some varieties, like nuts.
Grows 41 centimetres a day
The bamboo is the smart member of the grass family. And it grows really fast. If there is a road running through a bamboo grove, it may disappear completely in a month if it is not used. It grows at a rate of 41 centimetres a day and can rise up to 36 metres or the height of a ten-storey building!
What is even more interesting about the bamboo is the number of uses it has for humans. Some make weapons like knives, bows and arrows out of it, while others eat it as a delicacy! Every part of it has a special use. In certain parts of south Asia and south east Asia, tender bamboo shoots make an important food item.
House of bamboo
The matured bamboo stems are used to build entire houses. While the circular bamboo stem is used for making posts, those split in halves are used to make the roof and floor planks. The hard outer layers are stripped off and used to make mats and lattices to separate rooms, and baskets to store stuff.
Bamboo buckets and knives
Some of the bamboos are so thick that if you cut them and scoop out the insides, you can use them as buckets. Smaller ones can be made into tumblers. As people in parts of south Asia and south east Asia do. Certain kinds of bamboo are so tough that they are used to make knives, bows and arrows.
In Japan, gardeners use hollowed bamboo stems as water pipes and in China, the inner pulp is used to make paper. Its stem is used to make flutes in Java and in the United States, it is used as a fishing pole, walking stick and to make phonograph needles.
A phonograph is an instrument used for reproducing sounds by means of the vibration of a needle following a spiral groove on a revolving disc or a cylinder.