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20 / 10 / 2021

Growth and education

of bamboo poles

In a previous blog The difference in colour and hardness of different species of bamboo was explained, but what determines the thickness within a species? You have a Guadua pole of ø 5-7, but also a Guadua pole of ø 13-15 cm and sometimes even bigger! You can also experience a difference when you order 3 poles of ø 9-11 x 300cm. In this blog we explain how this can happen

Bamboo grows extremely fast. During that rapid growth it takes a lot of CO2 from the air. The bamboo stores this under the ground. Bamboo does not only grow in height, but also in width under the ground.

bamboo pole growth 2 copies
Growth and formation of bamboo poles 4

In this respect, there are two types of bamboo: rampant and non-rampose. Sometimes half a forest has grown from one underground root (rhizome). In nature, this is very nice for beautiful forests. This first plant still has to fight hard for its place in the ground. The bamboo that emerges from these underground roots, on the other hand, already has a nice network to meet its needs for successful growth. So you can plant a small bamboo plant that, a few years later, will produce huge new plants. In this way, huge shoots emerge from the ground and give you super strong bamboo to harvest. With non-growing, or: clumping bamboo, it is actually one bamboo that is the mother. From the underground clump of that one bamboo, other plants grow. In the wild, you can recognise these as clusters of bamboo together. 

Nameless 1 copy
Growth and formation of bamboo poles 5

The way it grows determines to a large extent how thick the bamboo is. Unlike a tree, bamboo does not grow wider above ground as it ages. But the bamboo does not emerge from the ground as an adult tree. As you can see in the photo, despite their size, they are really shoots. Eventually they grow to a height of 30 metres! Bamboo always has a slight 'taper'. This means that there is a margin difference in the ø (diameter). So it does matter on which side you measure it. You will hardly notice the difference with posts up to 2 metres long. With poles longer than 3 metres, however, you can put a percentage on it. Guadua, for example, has a much firmer diameter and averages about 10%. With Moso bamboo, this can be about 20-30%. But that does not necessarily mean that there is a difference in diameter in your stick. It is not always the case that there is such a difference. This has to do with the position of the stick in the entire bamboo.

For example, a Moso bamboo can grow up to 28 metres high! If you take out 3-metre stakes, some of the stakes will be at the top and some at the foot of the bamboo. The degree of change is determined by which part of the plant the pole comes from. Of course, we always make sure that these margins are as small as possible.

Apart from the degree of tapering, the distance between the nodes also says something about which part the pole comes from. For example, at the bottom of the bamboo, many nodes are relatively close together. As the bamboo grows, the space between the nodes will also grow. At the top, the space between the nodes decreases. The nodes give the bamboo strength and determine the strength of the bamboo. So it is efficient for the bamboo to have less space between nodes at the bottom. The space between the nodes is partly determined by the species. One species has more space than another. The conditions also play an important role. More water means larger internodes.

bamboo pole
Growth and formation of bamboo poles 6

This picture shows how to get 3 different poles out of a 10 metre bamboo. When cutting down bamboo, we always leave enough bamboo behind. This bamboo then provides the new growth.

So, based on how your bamboo pole looks, you can estimate where it comes from. For example, more space between the nodes and less tapering comes from a lower part of the bamboo. 

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