Bamboo is known as the fastest-growing plant in the world. And it is not only speed that is impressive. Some of the bamboo plants can grow surprisingly tall.
In addition to growing up and becoming tall, bamboo also grows out, spreading its root and rhizome system.
With more than 1400 bamboo species growing in all sorts of climates and conditions there is a wide variety of sizes among them.
And the differences are huge – from a tiny fragile bamboo plant that you can hold in your palm to a gigantic timber bamboo that shoots high in the sky.
The main thing that differentiates how tall the bamboo will grow is its species but even the bamboo plants from the same species will reach different heights in different conditions.
Plant hardiness zone, in-ground or container planting, heat, water, and wind are among some of the things that will impact the size of the bamboo plant can reach.
This is why the same bamboo species can reach look and behave differently in Michigan and Florida, for example.
The Tallest Bamboo – Dendrocalamus Giganteus
Dendrocalamus giganteus commonly known as Giant Bamboo or Dragon Bamboo is considered the tallest bamboo in the world.
It is a very tall, large-culmed tropical and subtropical clumping species native to Myanmar, Bhutan, China, and Thailand. It is cultivated at low and high altitudes, commonly along river banks, and home gardens.
Giant bamboo is a grayish-green color and grows in clumps consisting of a large number of closely growing culms. Under favorable conditions, it can grow up to 40 cm (about 16 inches) per day.
So if it is the tallest bamboo in the world, how tall it grows?
Giant bamboo typically grows to a height of 30 meters (98 feet), but the tallest known clump reached a height of 42 meters (137.9 feet) in Arunachal Pradesh, India.
The culms of Giant bamboo are thick-walled, dull green to dark bluish-green and covered with a white waxy crust when young. The internodes are usually 35 – 45 cm (14 – 18 inches) tall and 15 – 30 cm (6 – 12 inches) in diameter. The lower nodes usually have roost scars on them.
The Giant bamboo flowers and sets seeds about once every 40 years. It may sound surprising but actually is quite common among many bamboo species to grow without flowering for decades. Learn more about bamboo reproduction here.
Giant bamboo is very good for construction, paper production, and young shoots are edible and tasty.
Culms of Giant bamboo are used in many ways – for scaffolding, boat masts, rural housing, water pipes, vases, buckets, water pitchers, matting, boards and parquet, furniture, water pots and more.
The Smallest Bamboo – Raddiella vanessiae
Raddiella vanessiae holds the title of the smallest bamboo species. And interestingly – it was found quite recently. The tiny bamboo was discovered in 2006 during a research visit to French Guiana.
A description of the new species, Raddiella vanessiae, was published in the August 2007 issue of the Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas. The mature flowering and fruiting plants are only 2 cm tall (less than 1 inch).
The new species was named after Vanessa Hequet who was the first to find and collect the bamboo specimen.
It is thought by scientists that there are still probably at least several hundred bamboo species remaining to be discovered and formally described. The challenge is that many remote bamboo habitats have had very inadequate surveys for bamboos.
Featured image by W & J, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0