Herbs & Plants

Bambusa bambos

Botanical Name: Bambusa bambos
Family: Poaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Poales
Genus: Bambusa
Species: B. bambos

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

Common Names: Giant thorny bamboo, Indian thorny bamboo, Spiny bamboo, or Thorny bamboo

Habitat: Bambusa bambos is native to southern Asia (India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Indochina). It is also naturalized in Seychelles, Central America, West Indies, Java, Malaysia, Maluku, and the Philippines. It is 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.

Bambusa bambos is an evergreen Bamboo growing to 30 m (98ft) by 25 m (82ft) at a fast rate. The flowers are pollinated by Wind. It is a tall, bright-green colored spiny bamboo species, which grows in thickets consisting of a large number of heavily branched, closely growing culms.

Culms are not straight, but are armed with stout, curved spines. They are bright green, becoming brownish green when drying, and the young shoots are deep purple. Branches spread out from the base. Aerial roots reach up to few nodes above. Internode length is 15–46 cm, and diameter is 3.0–20 cm. Culm walls are 2.5–5.0 cm thick. Nodes are prominent and rootstock is stout.

Culm sheaths are dark brown when mature, elongated, and cylindrical. Length of the sheath proper is 15–25 cm and 12–30 cm in width. Blade length is 4.0–12 cm. Auricles are not prominent. Upper surfaces of the sheath are covered with blackish-brown hairs. Lower surfaces of the sheath are not hairy. Sheaths fall early.


A plant of the humid tropical lowlands, where it can be found at elevation up to 1,000 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 22 – 30°c, but can tolerate 8 – 36°c. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,200 – 2,500mm, but tolerates 700 – 4,500mm. Prefers a position in dappled shade, but also grows in full sun. Grows best in a fertile, moist soil. Prefers a pH in the range 4.5 – 6.5, tolerating 4 – 7. 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 Twelve-year-old clumps are regarded as mature. 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. Undisturbed clumps are almost impenetrable after some years because of the interlacing thorny branches. 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. 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.

Edible Uses:
Edible portion: Shoots, Seeds, Sap, Cereal. Young shoots – cooked. They are often cooked in two changes of water to remove the bitterness. The sugary sap is made into a drink. Seed. 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

Medical uses:
The plant contains high levels of silica and is used in many ways in Ayurvedic medicine.

The root is astringent and cooling.

It is used to treat joint pain and general debility.

The leaves are antispasmodic and emmenagogue.

They are taken internally to stimulate menstruation and to help relieve period pain.

They are also taken to tone and strengthen stomach function; to expel worms; and have the reputation of being an aphrodisiac.

The young sprouts, harvested as they emerge from below soil level, are taken internally to relieve nausea, indigestion and wind.

They are applied externally as a poultice to help drain infected wounds.

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.

The leaves are eaten by cattle and it is very good medicine for their stomach disorder.

Other Uses:
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. Planted along rivers in order to check floods. 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. 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. 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!. 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. The leaves are used for packing, as a filling for mattresses etc. This is good for bamboo huts, furniture manufacturing, handicraft, biomass consumption, biofuel, active charcoal.

Known Hazards: Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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