bamboo, plant of the family Gramineae (grass family), chiefly of warm or tropical regions, where it is sometimes an extremely important component of the vegetation. It is most abundant in the monsoon area of E Asia. Bamboos are the the largest grasses, sometimes reaching 100 ft (30 m). The stalks are round (rarely square), jointed, sometimes thorny, and hollow or solid with evergreen or deciduous leaves. Some types die after fruiting and some do not flower until they are about 30 years old. In many places bamboo is used as wood for construction work, furniture, utensils, fiber, paper, fuel, and innumerable small articles. Bamboo sprouts are eaten as a vegetable, and the grains of some species are also utilized for food. The bamboo has long been used for decorative purposes, both in gardens and in art. In the United States the native bamboo is a cane. The most common bamboo is Bambusa arundinacea. Bamboo is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Lilopsida, order Cyperales, family Gramineae.
See F. A. McClure, The Bamboos (1966).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.