Skip to main content
ARS Home » Southeast Area » Griffin, Georgia » Plant Genetic Resources Conservation Unit » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #225543

Title: Bamboo: An Underutilized Resource with Extensive Application Possibilities

item Harrison, Melanie
item Hotchkiss, Michael - Mike

Submitted to: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/3/2008
Publication Date: 6/3/2008
Citation: Harrison Dunn, M.L., Hotchkiss, M.W. 2008. Bamboo: An Underutilized Resource with Extensive Application Possibilities. ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts. CD-ROM.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Bamboo is classified into Subtribe Bambusoideae of the Poaceae family, which is comprised of over 1,600 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 regarded as an invasive plant. However, the plant can be adequately maintained through proper species selection and establishing effective control methods prior to planting. There are seemingly an 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 at 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 vouge green choice preferred by many consumers. It has been used for forage, particularly goats. It can be used to produce fabric with superior drape quality and is increasingly becoming marketed in the United States. 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 almost nonexistent. 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.