Did you know that naturalists refer to stands of bamboo in the metropolitan Washington area as “Dead Zones”? Nothing can live in them! Nothing can eat them! Nothing else can grow in a stand of bamboo. I’ve walked past this one every day for years, never really considering how totally impenetrable it is. I think I hear birds calling from deep inside the stand but maybe they are all sitting on the top of the bamboo stalks. I wonder if there are nests in the bamboo. Obviously you can’t see very far into it. Wish we could chop it down and send it to the pandas at the National Zoo. Of course it would grow right back… But the pandas would be happy.
Giant bamboos are the largest members of the grass family. One of the fastest growing plants on earth, there is a variety of bamboo that can grow 3 feet in a day. Bamboo has a higher specific compressive strength than wood, brick or concrete and a specific tensile strength that rivals steel. The new shoots are edible but read up on them before you proceed because they contain a toxin taxiphyllin that produces cyanide in the gut.
In the Chinese culture, bamboo, plum blossom, orchid and chrysanthemum are referred to as the “Four Gentlemen” and represent the four seasons. Because of their perseverance under the harsh conditions of winter, pine, bamboo and plum are referred to as the “Three Friends of Winter”. Several Asian cultures believe humanity emerged from a bamboo stem. IKEA sells bamboo plants for good luck.