Top 20 Important Bamboo Species

I thought bamboo was only native to China. I thought wrong. It’s native to Africa, the Americas, Oceania and Asia. Basically, everywhere.


There are 1250 species of woody bamboos in the world. Here are the top 20 commercially important species of bamboo. 


Bambusa arundinacea (B. bambos)

  • Tough and thorny multipurpose bamboo of South Asia
  • Thick culm internodes, which prevents easy splitting.
  • Culms grow up to 30 m tall
  • 18 cm in diameter
  • Wall thickness of up to 15 cm.
  • Nodes are up to 40 cm long and slightly swollen.
  • Originally from India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand and China.
  • Can grow and survive in 1,200 m altitude and can tolerate -2 C.
  • bambos is planted for land rehabilitation and riverbank stabilisation.
  • Used locally for handicrafts and low-value construction. Pulp extracted from the culms supplies 20 % of India’s bamboo pulp demand.


Bambusa balcooa B. balcooa

  • Culms grow up to 24 m tall
  • 15 cm in diameter.
  • Newly grown culms are grey-green to white in color.
  • Nodes 30–45 cm long
  • Nodes’ wall thickness are up to 2.5 cm thick.
  • Originally from N.E. India and Bangladesh.
  • Used in construction and agriculture.


Bambusa blumeana

  • Large, thorny bamboo with limited commercial value but remain highly valued in local communities.
  • Densely tufted
  • Culms 15–25 m tall
  • Up to 20 cm in diameter
  • Internodes 25–60 cm long.
  • Young shoots have yellowish-green sheaths and blades.
  • Originally from Sumatra, Java, Lesser Sunda Islands and Borneo.
  • The locals use it to produce furniture, chopsticks and handicrafts.



Bambusa polymorpha.

  • A medium to large bamboo, densely tufted.
  • Culms up to 15–25 m tall and up to 15 cm in diameter.
  • Relatively thick walls of 1 cm.
  • Originally from Myanmar, extending to Bangladesh, India and Thailand
  • The locals use it to create building materials, baskets and furniture.
  • The shoots are edible.


Bambusa textilis

  • A delicately thin-walled bamboo, ideal for weaving.
  • Medium-sized bamboo with straight culms and long internodes.
  • Their culms grow up to 15 m tall, 3–5 cm in diameter.
  • Internodes up to 60 cm long.
  • Native to Southern China.
  • Bambusa textilis culms can be easily split and finely woven to produce high quality wicker items.
  • textilis and some of its varieties are also often used for landscaping.
  • Its small shoots are edible.


Bambusa tulda

  • Culms can grow up to 30 m tall, 5–10 cm diameter.
  • Internodes 40–70 cm long
  • Culm walls have thickness of up to 1cm.
  • India, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Thailand.
  • Culms are used for furniture, handicrafts and are extracted for pulp.


Bambusa vulgaris

  • Culms are up to 20 m tall
  • 5–10 cm diameter
  • Internodes 25–35 cm long.
  • Walls up to 1.5 cm thick.
  • Found in the tropics.
  • vulgaris is known as the only pan-tropical bamboo.
  • Used locally for construction, furniture and handicrafts. However, its non-straight culms limit its uses.
  • Great for extracting pulp.
  • In Brazil, it is grown for pulp in large plantations and harvested mechanically on a 3-year rotation.


Cephalostachyum pergracile

  • Medium-Sized bamboo with straight culms that keep the culm sheaths.
  • Up to 30 m tall.
  • Internodes up to 45 cm.
  • Thin walled.
  • Found in N.E. India, Myanmar, Northern Thailand, Yunnan province and S.W. China. Also cultivated in botanical gardens.
  • Used in light construction, basketry. Outer layer can be finely split and used for handicrafts.


Dendrocalamus asper 

  • Large bamboo culms up to 20–30 m tall
  • Internodes 20–45 cm long
  • Diameter of 8–20 cm
  • Thick walls up to 2 cm
  • Originated from N.E. India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, northern Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.
  • asper is a multipurpose bamboo with a wide range of uses.
  • These bamboos’ large, strong and durable culms are very useful for construction in rural areas.
  • Shoots are edible.
  • Plantation for bamboo shoots established in Thailand.
  • Used for producing great quality furniture, musical instruments, chopsticks, household utensils and handicrafts.


Dendrocalamus giganteus

  • These bamboos are generally large.
    Culms grow up to 25–60m
  • Green to dark bluish green pigment
    Internodes 40–50 cm long
    10–20 cm in diameter
  • Wall thickness of 2.5 cm.
  • Originated from southern Myanmar and northern Thailand
  • Useful for building materials, bamboo boards, furniture, other household items and pulp.


Dendrocalamus latiflorus

  • Medium-sized bamboo 14–25 m tall
  • Internodes 20–70 cm long
  • 8–20 cm diameter
  • Wall thickness of 0.5–3 cm.
  • Originated from places with high rainfall - Myanmar, South China and Taiwan.
  • Used for producing high-quality furniture, crafts, baskets, pulp and thatching (covering roofs).
  • The leaves are used to wrap rice for cooking.


Dendrocalamus strictus

  • Medium-sized bamboo
  • Culms are 8–20 m tall
  • Internodes 30–45 cm long
  • 5–8 cm diameter
  • Thick, zigzagging wall.
  • Originated from India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Thailand.
  • Shoots are edible, but they’re of poor quality.
  • Used for creating boards; implemented in agriculture; extracting pulp and producing household utensils.


Gigantochloa apus

  • Large bamboo, strongly tufted and flexible
  • 8–30 m tall
  • Culms 4–13 cm diameter
  • Internodes 35–45 cm long
  • Wall thickness 1.5 cm
  • Originated from Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia.
  • Known to survive in dry areas.
  • Used for producing furniture, handicrafts, musical instruments, utensils and baskets.
  • Shoots are edible but are of poor quality and very bitter in taste.


Gigantochloa levis

  • Large bamboo, culms grow up to 30 m tall.
  • 5–16 cm in diameter.
  • Wall thickness 1–1.2 cm.
  • Internodes up to 45 cm long.
  • Origin is unknown, but cultivated in Philippines, Eastern Indonesia, Northern and Western Kalimantan, east Malaysia, China and Vietnam.
  • Common in farmhouses and gardens in the Philippines.
  • Has structural value; shoots are edible and of good quality; used for producing utensils, furniture, craft paper and fencing.


Gigantochloa pseudoarundinacea

  • Culms 7–30 m tall
  • Internodes 35–45 cm
  • 5–13 cm diameter
  • Wall thickness of 2 cm.
  • Originated from and cultivated in Java and Sumatra
  • Has structural value and used as water pipes.
  • Used for producing handicrafts, good quality furniture, household articles, chopsticks and toothpicks.
  • Shoots are edible and of good quality.


Guadua angustifolia

  • Culms are large and strong and of superior quality.
  • Culms grow up to 30 m tall.
  • Diameter of up to 20 cm.
    Dark green with white bands at the nodes.
  • Distribution - extending from Mexico to Argentina.
    angustifolia is the most widely used bamboo in Latin America.
  • Excellent for construction, furniture, pulp extraction and laminates.


Melocanna baccifera (Grove Forming)

  • Culms grow up to 10–20 m tall.
    Open and thin walls of 0.5–1.2 cm.
  • Internodes 20–50 cm long.
  • 5–7 cm in diameter.
  • baccifera covers huge swathes of northeast India and the adjoining parts of Myanmar and Bangladesh.
  • Used for roofing, thatching, matting, extracting pulp, paper and rayon (fabrics).
    Used for preparing liquor.
  • Locals eat the shoots.


Phyllostachys pubescens

  • Medium to large bamboo with culms 10–20 m tall
  • Approximately 18–20 cm in diameter
  • Internodes up to 45 cm long
  • Young culms have a noticeable white waxy covering.
  • Originated from China. Introduced to Japan (eighteenth century), Korea, Vietnam, the USA and Europe amongst others.
  • pubescens is the most economically valuable bamboo species in the world and makes up most of the 19bn yuan annual bamboo economy in China.


Ochlandra spp.

  • There are about ten species of Ochlandra, all between 5 and 10 m tall
  • Culms up to 5 cm diameter.
  • Originated from Western Ghats of southern India and southwestern Sri Lanka.
  • Regularly used for obtaining pulp and producing paper
  • Locals use the bamboo for walling and creating handicrafts.


Thyrsostachys siamensis

  • Densely Clumped
    Culms grow 8–16 m tall
  • Internodes 15–30 cm long.
  • Culm sheaths have persistent, white ring below the nodes.
  • Originated from Myanmar and Indochina. Naturally occur in pure or mixed forests in monsoonal areas.
  • Adaptable to more humid areas on good soils.
  • Used for pulp extraction, handicrafts, furniture, fences, windbreakers and for light construction work.

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