Is Bamboo Perennial?

Is Bamboo Perennial?

Bamboo shoot

Is bamboo perennial

Yes, bamboos are perennial flowering plants in the subfamily Bambusoideae.

Most of the bamboos are not only perennials but also evergreens, which means that they retain their green leaves all year round.

But there are also some that are naturally deciduous, meaning that they shed leaves every year and regrow new foliage.

It is also partially dependant on the climate – in cold climates bamboo are more tended to shed leaves and even lose some of the culms during the wintertime.

What does perennial mean

A perennial plant or simply perennial is a plant that lives more than two years.

The term perennial is used to differentiate a plant from annuals (life cycle – 1 year) and biennials (life cycle – 2 years).

How long perennials live is very varied. Both in general as well as between different bamboo species.

What type of perennial is bamboo

Bamboos belong to a special and quite rare type of plants – they are monocarpic perennials.

Monocarpic perennials have a very unique life cycle. They die after they flower the first time but the intervals between flowering can last for decades. And even over 100 years in case of some bamboo species.

There are over 1400 species of bamboo all over the world so they are not all the same in their flowering habits, however, scientists distinguish between some broad categories of bamboo flowering.

Bamboos in general flower rarely and for many species –  at unpredictable intervals.

A classification of 3 types of flowering in bamboo distinguishes between continuous, sporadic, and gregarious flowering.

Continuous or annual flowering happens with most herbaceous bamboos. Some species keep flowering every year without any effect on the plant itself but the produced seeds are rarely viable and their main way of spreading remains through rhizomes.

Sporadic flowering occurs only on individual stems (culms) of the same clump in a bamboo grove. There is not much of a pattern to this type of flowering and it is assumed that it may be induced by environmental factors such as drought or cold.

Gregarious flowering happens to most of the woody bamboo species. It is a fascinating phenomenon where all plants of a particular species flower at the same time, regardless of differences in geographic locations or climate conditions, even if they are on different continents.

When a certain bamboo species start to flower gregariously, they do this all over the world for several years until all of them have died.

Depending on the species, the cycles between gregarious flowering vary a lot. They can last from 20 up to 120 years.

Featured image by haru__q Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0