The word "bamboo" comes from the Dutch and Portuguese languages, which probably borrowed it from Malay.
Usually large and often tree-like, oody, rarely herbaceous or climbing, of wide geo graphical range. The species are irregularly distributed throughout the tropical zone, a few occurring in sub tropical and temperate zones, and reaching their maxi mum development in the monsoon regions of Asia. About 23 genera, only 2 being common to both hemi spheres.
Something more than 200 species are recognized. of which upwards of 160 occurs in Asia, about 70 in America, and 5 in Africa. They extend from sea-level to altitudes of more than 10,000 ft. in the Himalayas and 15,000 ft. in the Andes, and under the most favorable conditions some species may attain a height of 100-120 ft., with a diam. Of culm of 8-12 inches. An attempt to portray the many economic uses of the giant-grasses would greatly overreach the field of this article; but as objects of grace and beauty in the garden, conservatory, and special conditions of the landscape, the Bamboos are invaluable.
Not only are they available to planters where the climatic conditions are very favora ble, but it is possible to grow certain species where the cold of winter may reach zero Fahrenheit or even occa sional depressions of greater severity. Bamboos delight in a deep, rich loam, and generously respond to good treatment. A warm, slightly shady nook, protected from the prevailing winds of winter, and where moist but well-drained soil is plentiful, is an ideal location for these beautiful grasses.
A top-dress ing of manure and leaves is not only beneficial in winter, by preventing the frost from penetrating the ground too deeply, but it also preserves the moisture that is so es sential to the welfare of the plants during the growing season. Some species produce rampant subterranean stems and spread rapidly when once established. It is best to plant each group of but one species, and to re strict the rapidly-spreading sorts to isolated positions.
The most effective results to be obtained by planting Bamboos are secured on gentle banks above clear water and against a strong background of the deepest green. In such situations the gracefully arched stems, the dainty branches, bending with their wealth of soft green lvs., and the careless lines of symmetry of each individual, lend a bold contrast of the richest beauty. It will require a few years to thoroughly establish a clump of Bambons in the open air, and until this is effected the vigor, hardiness, and beauty that characterize some noble sorts are lacking.
During the early life of the groups, some protection should be given where the winters are trying, and even with this precaution, it is likely the plants will suffer to some extent at first during cold weather. Planted out in conservatories or confined in tubs or large pots, the Bamboos present many admirable qualities. As decorative plants in tubs or pots, either alone or associated with palms and other stock, several species offer many inducements to their cultivation, es pecially as they may be grown in summer and wintered in a coolhouse.
Propagation is best effected by the careful division of the clumps before the annual growth has started. The difficulty of procuring seeds in some in stances is very great; indeed, the fruiting of several species has never been observed. Some species flower annually, but the majority reach this stage only at inter vals of indefinite and frequently widely separated peri ods. In some species the tie. Appear on leafy branches; in others the lvs. Fall from the culms before the fls. Appear, or the inflorescence is produced on leafless, radi cal stems.
Fructiflcation does not exhaust the vitality of some species; but others, on the other hand, perish even to the portions underground, leaving their places to be filled by their seedling offspring.
Owing largely to the difficulty in obtaining flowering specimens, the systematic arrangement or nomenclature of the Bamboo is in a sad plight. As it is sometimes even impossible to accurately determine the genus without fls., the correct positions of some forms are not known.
Roughly, the species of Arundinaria may be separated from Phyllo stachys by the persistent sheaths and cylindrical stems. In Phyllostachye the sheaths are early deciduous, and the internodes, at least those above the base, are flat tened on one side. Arundina tie. And Bambusa cannot be separated by horticultural characters.