Bamboo © Tony Kirkham/RBG Kew

Bamboo

Bamboo in Chinese script

Phyllostachys aurea, Phyllostachys nigra

Bamboo is a member of the grass family, but grows tall like a tree. It is also the fastest growing plant on earth. In China, bamboo is a major part of everyday life and carries important symbolism. Bamboo is a symbol of strength, integrity and personal virtue because it bends in a storm but does not break.

Treated bamboo is strong and lightweight. The Chinese use it to make everything from chopsticks, hats and musical instruments to bridges and scaffolding. Its fibres are used for paper and fabric.

The young shoots are edible, the leaves are used as food wrappers and rice can be cooked in the hollow stalks. The resin, sap, leaves and shoots are used in many kinds of medicine, especially for fevers, convulsions and phlegm.

Back to the list of plants and objects in China Landscape

Bamboo weaving in Sichuan, China. © Tony Kirkham/RBG KewThis paper fan painting by Gao Fenghan dated 1725 is decorated with bamboo, rocks and chrysanthemums.

Left: Bamboo weaving in Sichuan, China.

Right: This paper fan painting by Gao Fenghan dated 1725 is decorated with bamboo,
rocks and chrysanthemums.

Top left: Bamboo © Tony Kirkham/RBG Kew
Bottom left: © Tony Kirkham/RBG Kew