Herbs & Plants

Bambusa vulgaris

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

*Arundarbor blancoi (Steud.) Kuntze
A. fera (Oken) Kuntze
*A. monogyna (Blanco) Kuntze
*A. striata (Lindl.) Kuntze
*Arundo fera Oken
*Bambusa auriculata Kurz
*B. blancoi Steud.
*B. fera (Oken) Miq.
*B. monogyna Blanco

Common Names: Common bamboo

Habitat: Bambusa vulgaris is native to Indochina and to the province of Yunnan in southern China, but it has been widely cultivated in many other places and has become naturalized in several regions like Northern and western S. America – Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia. Ecuador, Venezuela. Among bamboo species, it is one of the largest and most easily recognized. It grows on the riversides and open forests in Yunnan.

Bambusa vulgaris is an evergreen Bamboo growing to 20 m (65ft) by 10 m (32ft) at a fast rate. The flowers are pollinated by Wind.
It forms moderately loose clumps and has no thorns. It has lemon-yellow culms (stems) with green stripes and dark green leaves. Stems are not straight, not easy to split, inflexible, thick-walled, and initially strong. The densely tufted culms grow 10–20 m (30–70 ft) high and 4–10 cm (2–4 in) thick. Culms are basally straight or flexuose (bent alternately in different directions), drooping at the tips. Culm walls are slightly thick. Nodes are slightly inflated. Internodes are 20–45 cm (7.9–17.7 in). Several branches develop from mid-culm nodes and above. Culm leaves are deciduous with dense pubescence. Leaf blades are narrowly lanceolate.

Flowering is not common, and there are no seeds. Fruits are rare due to low pollen viability caused by irregular meiosis. At the interval of several decades, the whole population of an area blooms at once, and individual stems bear a large number of flowers. Vegetation propagates through clump division, by rhizome, stem and branch cutting, layering, and marcotting. The easiest and most practised cultivation method is culm or branch cutting. In the Philippines, the best results were obtained from one-node cuttings from the lower parts of six-month-old culms. When a stem dies, the clump usually survives. A clump can grow out of stem used for poles, fences, props, stakes, or posts. Its rhizomes extend up to 80 cm before turning upward to create open, fast-spreading clumps. The easy propagation of B. vulgaris explains its seemingly wild occurrence.


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. 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. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,200 – 2,500mm, but tolerates 700 – 4,500mm. Requires a moist, fertile, humus rich soil in full sun or dappled shade in warm humid conditions. Prefers a pH in the range 5 – 6, tolerating 4.5 – 6.5. 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. It is classified as ‘Invasive’ in some Pacific Islands. 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. Annual yields of up to 20 tonnes (dry weight) of the canes per hectare have been achieved. 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. 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. 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.

Edible Uses:
Edible portion: Shoots. Young shoots – cooked. They can be eaten with rice. The shoots are 5 – 9cm in diameter. A decoction of the growing point of the plant, mixed with the roots of Job’s tears (Coix lacryma-jobi) gives a refreshing drink. 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:
The stems are used as a remedy for rheumatism. The shoots are used to treat abscesses and malaria. The bark is astringent and emmenagogue. The leaves are used to treat heart problems and malaria. They are boiled and used in a bath to ease fevers. 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. The leaves are boiled as a hot tea , which induces profuse perspiration in treating a fever. The sap is used to treat fever and haematuria.

Different other Uses:
Common bamboo has a wide variety of uses, including the stems used as fuel and the leaves used as fodder, though a large amount of ingestion of leaves is known to cause neurological disorder among horses. The worldwide production and trade of B. vulgaris is considerable, though no statistics are available. It also has some disadvantages. Working and machining properties of the stems are poor, as they are not straight, not easy to split, and not flexible, but they are thick-walled and initially strong. Because of high carbohydrate content, stems are susceptible to attacks from fungi and insects such as powderpost beetles. Protection from biological threats is essential for long-term use.

The split stems are used for making brooms, fences, roofs, roof tiles, baskets etc. The acrid smoke produced from burning the stem is used as a mosquito repellent.The stems serve as poles to support banana plants.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. 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.The canes are used for fuel. Agroforestry Uses: Used for shelterbelts and erosion control on sloping ground and stream banks. Planted as a barrier and marker along boundaries.

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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