What is Bambusa vulgaris var. vulgaris?
Updated: Oct 30, 2023
Bambusa vulgaris var. vulgaris, also referred to in its shortened form, Bambusa vulgaris, is well established throughout the tropics and subtropics, including Jamaica. This bamboo species offers many uses and benefits to the communities in which it grows - and in Jamaica, this is no exception. Introduced in the 18th century, it has been put to a wide variety of uses from early on.
Bamboos are one of the fastest-growing plants in the world and are categorised as grasses with a woody stem, which is referred to as culms or poles. There are an estimated 1650 species of bamboo in the world. There are two main types of bamboo, categorised by their growth patterns. Running bamboos (monopodial) have long rhizomes that quickly spread in an unpredictable direction. This spreading speed is the main reason why many are under the misperception that all bamboo is invasive. Clumping bamboos (sympodial) have short rhizomes with a u-shape that are closer to the main plant. Clumping bamboos do not spread rapidly like runners. Clumpers generally grow faster than runners, but with a predictable growth pattern. Clumping bamboos grow creating circles, forming single clumps, and they are not invasive.
One way to think about clumping bamboos conceptually is as follows: if one hectare sowed with this type of bamboo is untouched by human intervention, it will still remain as one hectare. As such, clumping bamboos are considered to be non-invasive. This is the case of Bambusa vulgaris var vulgaris. Furthermore, clumping bamboos in a farmed setting can be observed growing in rows while invasive bamboos do not appear in rows due to their natural growth pattern.
Bambusa vulgaris has a very high tensile strength, and this makes it the perfect material for many different products that require durability, flexibility, and strength.
Benefits of Bambusa vulgaris
There are many benefits to using this bamboo species in commercial products. Its pulp, for example, made of the plant’s cellulose fibres, can be used to produce a variety of products, from paper and tissue to fabrics. This is due to bamboo fibres’ long, strong, durable and resistant fibres. Bamboo fibres are also naturally antibacterial. These properties together help to obtain strong, high-quality paper goods. Environmentally, bamboo forests and plantations have the ability to capture a great deal of CO2 from the air, contributing to initiatives for decarbonisation of the planet.
Utilising bamboo yields socioeconomic benefits too. According to INBAR, bamboo production offers the opportunity for rural communities to engage in a growing sector worth around USD 68 billion each year. In fact, bamboo bioproducts is estimated to create some 1,000 direct employment opportunities in Jamaica and an excess of approximately 10,000 indirect jobs as part of our investment in the country. This will bring about a positive change for the Jamaican economy as it will create significant employment opportunities in local rural areas.
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Bambusa vulgaris for Tissue and Hygiene
One of the many impactful uses for this bamboo species is its pulp for consumer tissue and personal hygiene products. Other than bamboo, non-wood fibre sources including straw, bagasse, and kenaf are not suitable for tissue due to their fibre morphology. Consequently, bamboo bioproducts is meeting a global demand. Bamboo bioproducts will follow a sustainable approach to cultivate and process its bamboo into pulp - providing a green solution for multi-national corporations and their consumer products.
Ultimately, bamboo’s versatility, as well as its suitability for tissue and hygiene products, particularly in comparison to other non-wood pulps, can create pathways for the development of sustainable products. Not only does incorporating bamboo in these consumer goods provide a green alternative, but its production also ignites a positive socio-economic impact when managed by leading stakeholders like bamboo bioproducts.
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