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Plants: Species Collection: Bamboo

What tall grass is used by more than half of the world's humans, grows faster than any other plant on Earth, and is said to have a thousand uses? It's bamboo!


The Zoo, of course, needs bamboo to feed our giant pandas--we harvest 10.5 tons (10.7 tonnes) of the beautiful grass each year. We have 2.5 acres (1 hectare) of bamboo planted at the Zoo and 2 acres (0.8 hectares) at the Safari Park.


Besides providing browse for our giant pandas, red pandas, and takins, the plants also provide important landscape elements. We have 67 taxa of bamboo, including some rare specimens that are used for research. Bamboo scientists come from all over the world to see our accredited collection.


The various bamboo species provide shade, beauty, and partitions, not to mention an easy way to fill in Asian bioclime landscaping gaps on short notice. The giant timber bamboo Bambusa oldhamii even makes an imposing vertical screen that's perfect for hiding unsightly buildings, walls, or sheds. But bamboo provides much more than landscaping and panda browse. Called "the wood of the poor" in India, it has supplied shelter for millions of people, not to mention an endless list of other helpful applications: material for suspension bridges, skyscraper scaffolding, airplane skins, musical instruments, furniture, paper, food, medicine, fuel, and even the filament for Thomas Edison's first successful light bulb.