An Eco-sustainable World
ShrubbySpecies Plant

Bambusa oldhamii

Bambusa oldhamii

The giant timber bamboo or Oldham’s bamboo (Bambusa oldhamii Munro, 1868) is a shrub species belonging to the Poaceae family.

Systematics –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
Eukaryota domain,
Kingdom Plantae,
Subkingdom Tracheobionta,
Spermatophyta superdivision,
Magnoliophyta division,
Class Liliopsida,
Subclass Commelinidae,
Cyperales Order,
Poaceae family,
Subfamily Bambusoideae,
Bambuseae tribe,
Subtribe Bambusinae.
Genus Bambusa,
Species B. oldhamii.
The terms are synonyms:
– Arundarbor oldhamii (Munro) Kuntze;
– Bambusa atrovirens T.H.Wen;
– Bambusa oldhamii f. revoluta W.T.Lin & J.Y.Lin;
– Bambusa oldhamii subsp. revoluta W.T.Lin & J.Y.Lin;
– Bambusa revoluta (W.T.Lin & J.Y.Lin) N.H.Xia, R.H.Wang & R.S.Lin;
– Dendrocalamopsis atrovirens (T.H.Wen) Keng f.;
– Dendrocalamopsis atrovirens (T.H.Wen) Keng f. ex W.T.Lin;
– Dendrocalamopsis oldhamii (Munro) Keng f.;
– Dendrocalamopsis oldhamii f. revoluta (W.T.Lin & J.Y.Lin) W.T.Lin;
– Dendrocalamopsis oldhamii subsp. revoluta (W.T.Lin & J.Y.Lin) W.T.Lin;
– Leleba oldhamii (Munro) Nakai;
– Neosinocalamus revolutus (W.T.Lin & J.Y.Lin) T.H.Wen;
– Sinocalamus oldhamii (Munro) McClure;
– Sinocalamus oldhamii f. revolutus (W.T.Lin & J.Y.Lin) W.T.Lin;
– Sinocalamus oldhamii subsp. revolutus (W.T.Lin & J.Y.Lin) W.T.Lin.

Etymology –
The term bamboo comes from the Indian-Malay vernacular bamboo / bambu.
The specific epithet oldhamii is in honor of the English botanist and collector Richard Oldham (1837-1864) who discovered this species and collected its samples in Taiwan.

Distribuzione Geografica ed Habitat –
The Bambusa oldhamii is native to the island of Taiwan and southern China (Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, Zhejiang). It is widely cultivated and has become naturalized in several places (Ryukyu Islands, New Zealand, Chiapas, Honduras, Peru, etc.)
Its natural habitat is that of the humid forests at low altitudes, of western Taiwan, below the mountains almost totally covered by tropical forest.

Description –
Bambusa oldhamii is a perennial bamboo, rhizomatous and evergreen, which forms dense tufts with erect stems (culms), only slightly curved at the apex, 6-18 m tall and of 6-12 cm of diameter at the base, with long internodes 18-30 cm, initially glaucous, then olive green, glabrous; the culms are hollow between the nodes and have walls about 1 cm thick.
In the juvenile phase the culms are protected by lanceolate foliar sheaths, 10-30 cm long, initially covered by irritating brown hairs which fall when the sheath dries.
The ramifications are numerous and grouped at the nodes, with the exception of the lowest ones, which rarely exceed 1 m in length, with one branch having a larger diameter than the others.
The leaves are deciduous, almost triangular with a sharp apex; they are alternate oblong-lanceolate with acuminate apex, 8-25 cm long and 2-6 m broad, pubescent below.
The inflorescences are about 1 m long with laterally flattened sessile spikelets grouped at the nodes, 3-4 cm long, and with the presence of 5-9 flowers.

Cultivation –
Bambusa oldhamii is a bamboo native to China and Taiwan but introduced for cultivation all over the world; it is grown under glass in Germany, and in Australia, Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas, Tennessee, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, Louisiana and California, where it is the most common bamboo grown.
However, in Taiwan, cultivation has declined, with many bamboo stands being converted to pineapple production; numerous grant and support programs have been set up as the cultivated bamboo groves provide valuable wildlife habitat and their destruction causes the green tree frog (Zhangixalus arvalis) to flee farmlands, making it critically endangered.
This plant tolerates temperatures down to -7°C.
However, it grows best in the humid tropical and subtropical regions and in those with a warm temperate climate with high summer temperatures and particularly mild winters, in less favorable conditions the speed of growth and the height reached decrease.
This bamboo needs full sun and is not particular about the soil, provided it drains and has an ample availability of water, in particular in the climates with long hot and dry summers.
Bamboos have an interesting growth method. Each plant produces a number of new stems each year – these stems reach their maximum height in their first year of growth, subsequent stem growth is limited to producing new side branches and leaves. In the case of this plant, the new stem can reach a height of up to 18 meters, with daily increases of 30 cm or more during the period of maximum growth. This makes them some of the fastest growing species in the world.
The plant reproduces by seed, placed superficially in draining loam kept constantly humid at the temperature of 22-24 °C, with variable germination times, up to some months, by division, with a minimum of three culms, and micropropagation.

Customs and Traditions –
Bambusa oldhamii is known by various names, such as: giant timber bamboo, green bamboo, Oldham’s bamboo (English); lü zhu (Chinese); ryoku-chiku (Japanese).
It was first described by Munro in 1868, the type specimen collected in Taiwan from Oldham (for which the species was named).
This bamboo is among the tallest and most decorative, as well as limited invasiveness, medium fast growth, good resistance to low temperatures, up to -7 °C if exceptional and short-lived, and to brackish winds, ideal for creating in a few years shielding hedges, windbreak and noise barriers.
Its shoots, deprived of the outermost layers, are edible after cooking, highly appreciated in Taiwan where the species is widely cultivated for this purpose, low in calories and rich in vitamins, in particular A, B1, B2 and C, minerals and fibers .
It should be remembered that the sprouts are poisonous if eaten raw, as they contain a cyanogenic glycoside, taxiphyllin, with a bitter taste, which transforms into hydrogen cyanide, but which is nonetheless thermolabile and is largely neutralized after boiling for about 40 minutes. .
However, no medicinal uses are known.
Among other uses, it is reported that the walls of the reeds are thick but rather soft and the reeds are used as a source of pulp.
Culms are used for furniture making, but are not suitable for construction.
Furthermore, this bamboo is grown as an ornamental plant in gardens all over the world.

Method of Preparation –
Bambusa oldhamii is a plant widely used in Taiwan and China, where the young shoots are highly sought after for their crunchy texture and sweet flavour.
However, the young shoots, as mentioned, are to be eaten after cooking and are of excellent quality.
Young shoots must be harvested as soon as they emerge from the ground.

Guido Bissanti

– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.

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Attention: The pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not in any way represent a medical prescription; we therefore decline all responsibility for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.

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