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Bamboo in the castle park of Richelieu in France

Bamboo in the castle park of Richelieu in France

Class : Bedecktsamer (Magnoliopsida)
Order : Sweet grass (Poales)
Family : Sweet grasses (Poaceae)
Subfamily : bamboo
Scientific name

Bamboo (Bambusoideae) is one of the twelve sub-families from the family of grasses (Poaceae), which are allocated to about 116 genera. The subfamily is divided into three tribes, with Arundinarieae and Bambuseae including woody species and Olyreae herbaceous plants. Bamboo species occur on all continents with the exception of Europe and the Antarctic.



The representatives of the subfamily are perennial, in the tribe Olyreae possibly also annual, herbaceous or woody grasses. The stalks are hollow or full-pithed and branch out in many species. Some types of bamboo, such as moso bamboo , grow to be 30 meters tall. The leaves are arranged in two rows. The leaves are divided into the leaf sheath and leaf blade. At the end of the leaf sheath, frayed ligules are often formed, in the tribe Arundinarieae and Bambuseae both in front of and behind the base of the leaf blade, in the tribe of Olyreae only behind the base of the leaf blade. The vagina often has auricles or is also ciliate (oral setae). The leaf blade is usually broad and parallel veined. The point of attachment to the leaf sheath is designed like a petiole.

The inflorescences are spiky , racemose or panicley , with two growth forms being distinguished: Either all spikelets mature in a growth phase , with the basal bracts and bracts usually missing, or the spikelets form buds, bracts and bracts at the base, with the buds again Spikelets can be formed that have different degrees of maturity. The spikelets with buds at the base, which can form further spikelets, are also known as spikelets. The spikelets are bisexual in the Arundinarieae and Bambuseae, unisexual in the Olyreae. No, one, two or more glumes and one to many florets are formed per spikelet . The lemmas can be awned, the palea are clearly developed. Usually three, rarely none or six, membranous and often ciliated cavernous bodies (lodiculae) are formed. Usually two, three or six stamens are formed, in the genus Pariana two to 40, and in the Ochlandra six to 120. The ovary is bald or hairy and has two or three styles and two or three stigmas . The fruits are caryopsis with a linear, rarely punctiform hilum .

The basic chromosome number is x = 7, 9, 10, 11 or 12.

The representatives of the subfamily are C3 plants .


The rhizomes grow underground and, like the stalks and culms, consist of nodes and internodes. Each rhizome develops from a bud of another rhizome, or very rarely from the bud at the base of a stalk. A further distinction is made between the rhizome body ( English rhizome proper ) and the earlier developing rhizome neck ( English rhizome neck ). The rhizome neck is usually rather short and widens towards the rhizome body. In principle, a distinction is made between two growth forms that also determine the spread of the bamboo: pachymorphic rhizomes and leptomorphic rhizomes.

Pachymorphic rhizomes

Pachymorphic rhizomes with cut stems

Pachymorphic rhizome bodies are rather short and thick, spindle-shaped to almost round, usually more or less curved, and at the thickest point usually thicker than the stalk in which the rhizome typically ends. The internodes are usually wider than they are long, not hollow and usually longer asymmetrically on the side with the bud. Lateral buds can only grow again as rhizomes, stalks only form at the ends of the rhizomes. The rhizome necks can be short or long. This type of rhizome is also known as sympodial .

Leptomorphic rhizomes

Leptomorphic rhizome with stalk of Phyllostachys bambusoides

Leptomorphic rhizome bodies are long and thin, cylindrical or almost cylindrical with a diameter that is usually smaller than that of the developing stalks. The internodes are symmetrical or nearly symmetrical, longer than wide, and all about the same length. Dormant side buds are mostly boat-shaped. At each node there is a single node and a root attachment. In Arundinarieae , buds or roots may be missing. Most of the side buds remain dormant; if they develop, stalks are usually formed, more rarely more rhizomes are formed. The terminal bud usually continues to grow horizontally, more rarely the rhizomes point towards the surface and form a stalk. The rhizome necks are always short. Leptomorphic rhizomes are also known as monopodial .

Other forms

As amphipodial growth form, leptomorphic rhizomes are called, which form stalks as usual, but the buds of the stalk bases form further stalks ( tillering ), which leads to a clump-like distribution of the stalks. The stem bases resemble pachymorphic rhizomes, but are no thicker than the stalks. This growth form occurs in the genera Arundinaria , Indocalamus , Pseudosasa , Shibatea and Sasa . Leptomorphic and pachymorphic rhizomes can also occur together, for example in some species of the genus Chusquea such as Chusquea fendleri . In doing so, pachymorphic rhizomes are formed on the lateral buds of leptomorphic rhizomes, which branch out further and at the end of which the stalks are formed.


Open growth habit in Phyllostachys edulis , a bamboo with leptomorphic rhizomes

The distribution of the stalks is determined by the type of rhizome. Species with short-necked, pachymorphic rhizomes grow in separate, compact clumps. This growth form can be found, for example, in Dendrocalamus membranaceus . Species with pachymorphic rhizomes with slightly longer necks form less compact clumps, such as Fargesia nitida or Bambusa vulgaris . Bamboo species with leptomorphic rhizomes grow more openly, with individual stalks evenly distributed over an area. This includes, for example, Phyllostachys edulis . However, species with long-necked, pachymorphic rhizomes such as Melocanna baccifera also show the same distribution . Bamboo species with amphipodial growth form, such as Yushania niitakayamensis, form dense clusters of stalks through tillering, which are connected to one another with leptomorphic rhizomes. A similar distribution is found in long-necked pachymorphic rhizomes and hardening stalks, as in Semiarundinaria fastuosa or Shibataea kumasasa, and in the case of joint occurrence of leptomorphic and pachymorphic rhizomes such as in Chusquea fendleri .


The stalks are mostly lateral branches of leptomorphic rhizomes or shoots from the end of pachymorphic rhizomes. Their growth form can be erect, upright with overhanging tips, ascending, to broadly curved or climbing. They can grow straight or in a zigzag. A stalk, which arises from a lateral bud of a leptomorphic rhizome, consists of two parts: the actual, above-ground stalk itself and the underground stalk base. The stem base is similar to the rhizomes from the actual stem base ( English culm base proper , Halmbasiskörper) and the Halmbasishals ( English culm neck ). The actual stem base is a narrow cone, the node of which forms a leaf sheath, a root attachment and usually also a node. With tillering, further stalks can develop from these buds. The internodes can be full-pithed or hollow, they are usually short and become continuously longer towards the surface. The actual stalk then begins above the surface, which is characterized by a sudden increase in the length of the internodes and by a more clearly cylindrical shape. The stem base neck is thin and curved and connects the stem base body with the rhizome. Culms that arise from the end of a leptomorphic rhizome that has protruded to the surface do not form such a stem base. The aboveground stalks are then usually clearly curved upwards, and the internodes arranged near the ground are usually shorter than the stalks that arise from lateral buds. Culms that arise from pachymorphic rhizomes also do not have a stem base. Their place is taken by the rhizome. Here, too, further stalks can arise from buds, which occurs , for example, in Yushania niitakayamensis .

The diameter of short stalks decreases from the base to the tip. With longer stalks, the first half is usually cylindrical or almost cylindrical and then tapers noticeably. In the largest stalks of some strong species, for example in the genus Phyllostachys , the stem diameter can also increase from the base, later only taper slightly and only decrease significantly in the upper third or quarter.

Length of internodes depending on the position for three types of bamboo

The culms are divided into segments formed by nodes and internodes. The length of the internodes of self-supporting stalks usually increases from the base, then reaches a maximum and then decreases again, see diagram for the length of the internodes depending on the sequence. In some species they can then increase again and form a second maximum. Usually the increase in internodal length up to the maximum is faster than the decrease towards the tip. Climbing bamboo species have a large central area with internodes of roughly the same length. Deviating from this, the first internode of the species Arthrostylidium schomburgkii is very long. It can reach a length of 5 meters with a straw length of 15 meters. The following two or more nodes are then not separated by internodes. Other species, such as Glaziophyton mirabile and members of the genus Myriocladus, show similar behavior .


The internodes can differ significantly between the genera and species. In all species of the genus Phyllostachys , for example, a distinct furrow ( sulcus ) forms directly above the bud or the branches , in the species of the genus Shibatea this area is only flattened. The internodes of the stalks and also those of the rhizomes of these genera show comparable shapes. Many species form a white layer on the internodes. This can range from a barely visible coating (similar to that which occurs on fruits such as plums) to a distinct, felt-like and flour-like deposit that, as in Bambusa chungii , completely covers the actually green internodes. Whether and when this layer is formed serves as a distinguishing feature for some species. Other characteristics of the internodes that are important for the delimitation of species and genera are the nature of the surface (e.g. the leather-like surface in Phyllostachys makinoi and Phyllostachys sulphurea or the warty surface in Chimonobambusa quadrangularis ), the color or the hairiness (for example the velvety hairiness of the internodes of young ones Shoots of the species Phyllostachys edulis or the ground-level internodes of representatives of the genus Schizostachyum, covered with pressed, pale hair ).


The shape of the knots is also different between different species. An important distinguishing feature is the vaginal scar ( English sheath scar ) forming a transverse projection on the Halmumfang at which the approach of the Halmscheide was located. The vaginal scar can be thin and inconspicuous, for example in members of the genus Melocanna , or it can be thick and form a clear swelling, which is bordered by brown hair, as in Bambusa chungii , Phyllostachys nidularia or Sinobambusa tootsik . It can also run symmetrically and evenly around the stalk or be shifted significantly downwards under the branch bud or the branch, as in Bambusa bambos or many species of the genus Chusquea .

Branch buds

The buds of the branches are located on opposite sides of consecutive nodes just above the vaginal scar. Each bud is centered on the stem sheath formed at its base. Most species only form a single bud per node. An exception are representatives of the genus Chusquea , in which a large central bud is flanked by two or more smaller ones. Each of these buds can later develop into branches. A distinguishing feature of different taxa is the order in which the buds break open and branches form. This can be done acropetally, which means that the buds develop from the base to the tip to branches, for example in Arundinaria gigantea or in representatives of the genus Phyllostachys ; basipetal, when the buds first break near the tip of the stalk, as in Bambusa textilis ; or the branches develop first in the middle of the stalk and later above and below it, for example in Semiarundinaria fastuosa . The nodes of fully grown stalks near the base may lack branch buds. In the case of representatives of Bambusa textilis and Pseudosasa amabilis , for example, the lower half to two thirds of the stalk cannot show any branching buds or branches. In representatives of different genera such as Glaziophyton , Guaduella and Puelia , branch buds can often be completely absent.


Typical branching type for the genus Phyllostachys with two branches (here at Phyllostachys bambusoides )

Not all bamboos branch out. If they do, the branches in the middle of the stalk have the typical shape that is used to differentiate between species and genera. The branches near the base of the stalk are usually not fully developed, and branches near the top of the stalk are in most cases too little different to be able to use them for demarcation. Some types of bamboo show a characteristic number of branches that come off a knot in the middle of the stalk. In the genus Sasa , the outgoing branch remains alone, as it lacks buds at the base. In Phyllostachys usually two branches, develop one of which is usually much thinner. In Phyllostachys arcana , both branches are about the same thickness. Sometimes a significantly thinner third branch can develop at the base of the second. In the case of branching types in which one branch per node is dominant, this usually closely resembles the stalk itself. This is especially true for species with pachymorphic rhizomes, which often form branches whose approach on the stalk resembles the rhizomes. The internodes are not hollow and even have roots or roots, for example in Bambusa tulda , Bambusa textilis , Bambusa vulgaris and Gigantochloa apus . The transition from filled to hollow, long internodes is as sudden as between rhizome and stalk. In climbing species, for example from the genera Chusquea and Dinochloa , the dominant branches can reach the same diameter and the same shape and length as the stalk. Some species form small, hardened, curved and pointed branches that are typical for the species. This can go so far that the stalks appear thorny, with the lower part of the stalk usually being the thorniest. Such thorns occur in all species of the genus Guadua and in many of the genus Bambusa .


Distribution map of the subfamily
Bamboo forest in Huang Shan

The approximately 1000 to 1500 types of bamboo are native to all continents with the exception of Europe and Antarctica and their range extends from 46 ° north to 47 ° south latitude . They grow from sea level to an altitude of about 4000 meters. The species can be divided into two groups in terms of their range ( biogeography ): in bamboo species of the tropics and subtropics (Tribus Bambuseae and Olyreae ) and in species of the temperate zone (Tribus Arundinarieae ).


The Bambusoideae are one of the twelve subfamilies of the sweet grasses and are combined with the closely related Ehrhartoideae and the Pooideae to form the so-called BEP clade. The name is derived from the first letters of the subfamilies. The Pooideae form the sister taxon to the Bambusoideae.

The Bambusoideae are divided into three tribes :

The Olyreae form the sister taxon to the Bambuseae. This results in the following cladogram :

 Bamboo (Bambusoideae) 






Species of other taxa wrongly called “bamboo”

No bamboo: "lucky bamboo"

Under the absurd from a botanical point of view called "lucky bamboo" or in English sounding name "Lucky Bamboo" varieties come the plant systematically bamboo distant dracaena species Dracaena braunii from the family of asparagaceae ago. It is offered in many furniture stores, hardware stores, supermarkets, garden centers and flower shops in Europe.

The Seychelles grass , which is offered as "dwarf bamboo" or "bonsai bamboo", is also not real bamboo . The "hanging tree bamboo " is also a grass, the so-called braided bouquet grass . Other plants erroneously referred to as bamboo are “sky bamboo” and “Mediterranean bamboo”.



  • FA McClure: The Bamboos . Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington and London 1993, ISBN 1-56098-323-X .
  • Bamboo Phylogeny Group: An Updated Tribal and Subtribal Classification of the Bamboos (Poaceae: Bambusoideae) . In: The Journal of the American Bamboo Society . tape 24 , no. 1 , 2012, ISSN  0197-3789 , p. 1–10 ( PDF [accessed January 17, 2015]).
  • Bamboo Phylogeny Group: An Updated Tribal and Subtribal Classification of the Bamboos (Poaceae: Bambusoideae) . Keynote Lecture. In: Proceedings of the 9th World Bamboo Congress, Vol. 1 . 2012, ISSN  2150-1165 , p. 3-27 ( online ).
  • Yun-Jie Zhang, Peng-Fei Ma & De-Zhu Li: High-Throughput Sequencing of Six Bamboo Chloroplast Genomes: Phylogenetic Implications for Temperate Woody Bamboos (Poaceae: Bambusoideae) , In: PLoS ONE , Volume 6, Issue 5, 2011, e20596. ISSN  1932-6203 , doi : 10.1371 / journal.pone.0020596 .
  • Sarawood Sungkaew, Chris MA Stapleton, Nicolas Salamin & Trevor R. Hodkinson: Non-monophyly of the woody bamboos (Bambuseae; Poaceae): a multi-gene region phylogenetic analysis of Bambusoideae ss , In: Journal of Plant Research , Volume 122, 2008 / 2009, pp. 95-108, doi : 10.1007 / s10265-008-0192-6 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Bamboo  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Bambusoideae  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d Bamboo Phylogeny Group: An Updated Tribal and Subtribal Classification of the Bamboos (Poaceae: Bambusoideae) , The Journal of the American Bamboo Society, 2012, p. 3.
  2. ^ McClure: The Bamboos , p. 17.
  3. ^ McClure: The Bamboos , pp. 24, 25.
  4. a b McClure: The Bamboos , p. 25.
  5. McClure: The Bamboos , pp. 25, 26.
  6. ^ McClure: The Bamboos , p. 26.
  7. ^ McClure: The Bamboos , p. 40.
  8. ^ McClure: The Bamboos , p. 42.
  9. Data from McClure: The Bamboos , p. 43. Diagram created with Microsoft Excel.
  10. ^ McClure: The Bamboos , pp. 42, 43.
  11. ^ McClure: The Bamboos , pp. 43, 44.
  12. ^ McClure: The Bamboos , p. 46.
  13. McClure: The Bamboos , pp. 48, 49.
  14. ^ McClure: The Bamboos , p. 49.
  15. a b McClure: The Bamboos , p. 51.
  16. McClure: The Bamboos , p. 58.
  17. ^ McClure: The Bamboos , p. 60.
  18. a b Sungkaew et al .: Non-monophyly of the woody bamboos (Bambuseae; Poaceae): a multi-gene region phylogenetic analysis of Bambusoideae ss , 2009, p. 95.
  19. Jump up Bamboo Phylogeny Group: An Updated Tribal and Subtribal Classification of the Bamboos (Poaceae: Bambusoideae) , The Journal of the American Bamboo Society, 2012, p. 1.
  20. Bambusoideae in the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), USDA , ARS , National Genetic Resources Program. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland.
  21. Jump up Bamboo Phylogeny Group: An Updated Tribal and Subtribal Classification of the Bamboos (Poaceae: Bambusoideae) , The Journal of the American Bamboo Society, 2012, p. 2.
  22. Sungkaew et al .: Non-monophyly of the woody bamboos (Bambuseae; Poaceae): a multi-gene region phylogenetic analysis of Bambusoideae ss , 2009, p. 103.
  23. Jan Petter: The lucky bamboo from Ikea is really not bamboo , bento