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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: CONSERVATION, CHARACTERIZATION, AND EVALUATION OF CROP GENETIC RESOURCES AND ASSOCIATED INFORMATION

Location: Plant Genetic Resources Conservation Unit

Title: Bamboo: An Underutilized Resource with Extensive Application Possibilities.

Authors
item Harrison Dunn, Melanie
item Hotchkiss, Michael

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: November 1, 2010
Publication Date: November 5, 2010
Citation: Harrison Dunn, M.L., Hotchkiss, M.W. 2010. Bamboo: An Underutilized Resource with Extensive Application Possibilities. American Bamboo Society Annual Conference.

Interpretive Summary: Bamboo is a very diverse plant with over 1600 species. Although considered a weed by many, bamboo can be planted in a way that is manageable and controllable. There is a seemingly unlimited number of uses for bamboo as demonstrated in China and other foreign countries, but the many uses of bamboo has not been realized in the U.S. where the main production has been for ornamental purposes. A perennial that grows by an extensive network of underground storage structures, bamboo can withstand harsh conditions including drought and low fertilizer inputs. Coupled with its amazing growth rate, bamboo provides a highly renewable "green" choice for the production of food, fiber and forage. It is a promising candidate for biofuel production. It is an excellent source of high quality lumber and flooring products and is increasingly becoming the en vogue green choice preferred by many consumers. It is used for forage, particularly goats. It can be used to produce fabric with superior drape quality and is increasingly becoming marketed in the U.S. Edible shoot production is a potential niche market for the crop with current supply lagging far behind demand in the U.S. Despite the retail interest in bamboo products in the U.S. and its potential for biomass and forage use, bamboo production in the U.S. is very limited. Research is needed on the plant production, large-scale establishment, harvesting and processing of bamboo to allow producers the opportunity to take advantage of this valuable resource.

Technical Abstract: Bamboo is classified into Subtribe Bambusoideae of the Poaceae family which is comprised of over 1600 species of bamboo. Most species originated in Asia and Central and South America, although there are several species native to the United States. Often overlooked in the United States, bamboo is generally regarding as an invasive plant. However, the plant can be adequately maintained through proper species selection and establishing effective control methods prior to planting. There is a seemingly unlimited number of uses for bamboo as demonstrated in China and other foreign countries, but the utility of bamboo has not been realized in the U.S. where the main production has been for ornamental purposes. A perennial that grows by an extensive network of underground rhizomes, bamboo can withstand harsh conditions including drought and low fertility. Coupled with its amazing growth rate, bamboo provides a highly renewable "green" choice for the production of food, fiber and forage. It is a promising candidate for biofuel production as it has low ash content, low alkali index and high biomass production. It is an excellent source of high quality lumber and flooring products and is increasingly becoming the en vogue green choice preferred by many consumers. It is used for forage, particularly goats. It can be used to produce fabric with superior drape quality and is increasingly becoming marketed in the U.S. Edible shoot production is a potential niche market for the crop with current supply lagging far behind demand in the U.S. Despite the retail interest in bamboo products in the U.S. and its potential for biomass and forage use, bamboo production in the U.S. is very limited. Research is needed on the propagation, large-scale establishment, harvesting and processing of bamboo to allow producers the opportunity to take advantage of this valuable resource.

Last Modified: 4/19/2014
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