A crash course in changing the world.
In America, there are only three species of bamboo that grow naturally. These three species once covered nearly five million acres of land in America, until settlers began to tear down this “Cane Break” for farming lands. Any other species of bamboo that grow in North America are generally those that have been transplanted from other places....For gardeners, the temperature zones that bamboo grows best in are zones 4 through 10. The heartier species of bamboo should be grown in zones 4 through seven, while sub-tropic species can be grown in zones 9 and 10.
Bamboo BreedingHave you ever thought how frustrating it would be to be a graduate student in plant breeding studying bamboo? You could only make the crosses between varieties when they flowered. In bamboo, flowering occurs most commonly after 30 years, but can be on other multiples of 15, even 120 years for different species. Then there is the problem that the two varieties you wanted to cross might not flower at the same time. That is why this terribly important plant has never been improved by plant breeding.Dr. Larry Butler at Purdue University alerted us to a breakthrough (Nature, vol. 344, p 291, 1990). Researchers have found that "tissue cultured shoots from bamboo seedlings on medium supplemented with cytokinin [a plant hormone] and coconut milk flowered ... after only three subcultures." The varieties they work with would normally flower after 30 years. Similar advances have been found with other species. For example, date palm shoots can be made to flower in five months after tissue culture rather than the usual 9 years.There should now be "an explosion of new types [of bamboo]...". There is plenty of variation to chose from in making crosses. "Leaves, for example, vary between species from great sheets 4.l5 meters long and 30 centimeters wide (on a plant only 3 meters high) to hair-like threads." "Bamboo hay has four times the protein content of hay from gra**** and paper from bamboo is much better than newsprint."