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BAMBOO

botanical name unknown

There are at least 59 species from 22 genera that have the word bamboo as all or part of one or more of their common names and I have no idea which of them are represented on this page except as specifically noted. Most of the species are in either the genus Bambusa or or the genus Phyllostachys but at least 2 dozen are in various other genera.

Because of the way it grows, bamboo does not produce "lumber" in the normal sense and everything you see that is made of bamboo and is more than an inch or so wide is made of laminations of strips that are cut from the round stalk. Technically, bamboo is not wood at all, but rather is a type of grass, just like the palms. It grows as a hollow tube but with knuckles spaced regularly along its length. Really large stalks can grow to several inches in diameter with knuckles more than a foot apart.

"Carbonization" of bamboo is a steaming process that weakens the wood by about 25% but makes it more pliable and changes the color from fairly white to more tan. This process also makes the grain stand out more than in the natural wood. Carbonized bamboo is less appropriate for flooring because it scratches more easily than uncarbonized bamboo.

"Caramelization" of bamboo is a steaming process that caramelizeds the sugars in bamboo thus changing the color from pretty white to more of a honey color.

One of the things to note about bamboo is that the distribution of the "pores" is not uniform but rather is relatively sparse at the inside near the hollow center and denser near the outer skin.

my samples:


various types of bamboo, shot at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, and a closeup of one of them. This shows very nicely how bamboo has only a thin outer layer of "wood" broken up frequently by the "knuckles" thus explaining why bamboo flooring is always made of small strips laminated together and exhibiting frequent blotchy areas going across the grain which are the knuckles. HUGE enlargements are present and you can read the signs on some of them. The end grain on the closeup shows the same characteristics as the flooring sample directly below but I forgot to make a note of what type of bamboo it is.


both sides of a sample plank of moso bamboo / Phyllostachys edulis --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by Mark Peet whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


tiny "plank" showing the "knuckle" as a dark vertical stripe


flooring sample and end grain --- obviously a laminate


end grain closeup from the flooring sample directly above


small, thin, pices of bamboo with a fungal growth that causes them to be called "dirty bamboo" according to Mark Shade, who gave them to me, and whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


both sides of a sample plank of bamboo (black pambil) / Iriartea deltoidea --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above

web pics:


natural and carbonized bamboo for comparison


plank listed as bamboo / Phyllostachys pubescens and with wet and dry sections


end grain


planks --- note: some bamboo planks are specifically listed as "laminated" but as far as I am aware ALL bamboo planks are laminated since there just isn't any other way to make them


plank listed as bamboo / Phyllostachis spp.


veneer --- I have never seen bamboo veneer but I assume the washed out color is either incorrect or there is some bleaching process used in the veneer creation.


veneer listed as bamboo / Phyllostachy heterocycla


veneer listed as carmelized bamboo / Phyllostachy heterocycla.


veneer listed as bamboo / Phyllostachys edulis


steamed veneer listed as bamboo / Phyllostachys edulis


flooring


bowls --- you can see the segmenting pretty clearly



unsegmented bamboo vase made by Mike Hawkins out of a large bamboo stalk, and the stages of construction. The finish is analine dye. Note how neatly Mike made a bead at the bottom of the vase to make the natural ring on the bamboo fit right into the design. Enlargements are present on all but the first pic. Whatever kind of bamboo this is, it has unusually thick walls.