Arboretum Images 2

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Palomar College Arboretum Images 2: Bamboos
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Grass Family (Poaceae)

Left: Buddha's belly bamboo (Bambusa ventricosa = B. tuldoides cv. 'ventricosa'). This species is named for the swollen internodes that often develop when it is grown in tight, root-bound containers. Right: Painted bamboo (B. vulgaris cv. 'vittata' = B. vulgaris cv. 'striata')

Black bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra) in the Palomar College Arboretum.

Left: The striking culms of yellow groove bamboo (Phyllostachys aureosulcata) have a prominent groove or sulcus along one side of each internode. This groove is characteristic of species within the genus Phyllostachys. Right: Giant timber bamboo (Bambusa oldhamii).

Left: The striking culms of yellow groove bamboo (Phyllostachys aureosulcata) have a prominent groove or sulcus along one side of each internode. Right: Yellow groove bamboo in full bloom. The inflorescences (panicles) develop at the tips of the stems where new leaves are typically produced. Unlike most grasses, the floret-bearing spikelets are enclosed in deciduous sheathlike bracts. In fact, the generic name Phyllostachys is derived from the Greek "phyllos" (leaf) and "stachys" (spike), referring to the apical, sheathlike bracts covering the spikelets. Most varieties of bamboos in cultivation are clones derived from a single plant. This may explain why some cultivated bamboos have the same flowering cycle and mortality as populations on different continents. By far the majority of bamboo species are not monocarpic, i.e. they do not flower gregariously and then die.

A spikelet of yellow-groove bamboo (Phyllostachys aureosulcata). Each spikelet consists of 3 to 6 florets. Several stamens and a feathery stigma are protruding from the upper pair of fertile florets.

A single fertile floret (flower) of yellow-groove bamboo (Phyllostachys aureosulcata). Each floret is contained within two bracts called the lemma and palea. The two fertile florets occur in a spikelet composed of 3-6 florets subtended by a pair of glumes. Grasses are typically wind-pollinated and have no need for showy petals like other flowering plants.

Left: Striped blowpipe bamboo (Bambusa dolichoclada cv. 'stripe') native to Taiwan. Right: Phyllostachys vivax photographed at Quail Botanic Garden.

  See The Wayne's Word Bamboo Article  


Dried, packaged leaves sold as bamboo in Asian Markets. The leaves are used for wrapping glutinous rice dumplings called "zongzi" eaten during the Dragon Boat Festival on day five of the fifth lunar month. Bamboo leaves are also used for lining the bottoms of pans when cooking rice cakes, meat patties and other dishes. Although the stem in the above image is a bamboo, the leaves typically come from a tall, naturalized grass called "kong" or "tiger grass" (Thysanolaena maxima). This grass is planted at the north entrance to the Palomar College Arboretum.

Tiger grass (Thysanolaena maxima) in the Palomar College Arboretum.