Bamboo Plant Parts I

by philinshelton on January 22, 2009

in Bamboo Basics,Botanical

Above the Ground

You need to know the names of the major plant parts and have a basic understanding of what they do in order to understand how bamboo grows and understand my articles on growing and maintaining bamboo.  This is a two part article on basic morphology.  In this article, you will learn about the parts of bamboo that grow above ground.  Click on a keyword to see a picture, and click in the picture to close it.

Culms

The main stem of a bamboo is called a culm.  The culm is the support structure for the branches and leaves, and conatains the main vascular system for the transport of water, nutrients and food. Culms aslo serve as food storage organs.  The culm is made up of jointed segments.  The joints are called nodes, and the area between nodes is called an internode.  The nodes of a bamboo are always solid, and the internodes of most bamboos are hollow. By splitting a bamboo culm lengthwise, you can see the solid plates inside the culm at the nodes, and the hollow internode.  The hollow internodes give the stem flexibility, and the plates give the stem strength and keep it from buckling under stress. 

Branches

Branching occurs at the nodes, on alternate sides of the culm.  In the vast majority of bamboos I grow, the branches are smaller than the culms.  Successive branches dwindle in size, finally terminating in the foliage leaves. The way the branches are arranged can often help to identify a bamboo.  For example, bamboos in the genus Phyllostachys have a similar branch complement containing two secondary branches.

Foliage Leaves

The foliage leaves are the food producing organs.  The green part of the leaf is called the blade.  The leaf blade is attached to a leaf sheath, which encloses and protects the newest leaf emerging from the growing tip.  

Culm Leaves

The culms also have leaves, but their primary purpose is to protect the new culms in the early stages of growth.  Most of the leaf is comprised of a protective sheath with a very small leaf blade, so the whole leaf is often called a “culm sheath”.  The sheaths are attached at the nodes, opening on alternate sides of the culm.  In the earliest stages of growth, the sheath completely surrounds and protects the new shoot.  Later on, the sheath dries up and in most bamboos, eventually falls away. Like the culms, the new growth of every segment of every branch is covered with a protective sheath.  These also dry up and eventually fall away.

That’s the very basics… jointed stems, solid nodes, foliage leaves and culm leaves, protective sheath on all stems.  To learn about the underground parts of a bamboo plant, read Bamboo Plant Parts II

 

 

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February 27, 2011 at 10:12 pm

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

biibiii February 18, 2010 at 2:06 am

great ! ! tq, this is all of my task… phew…. !! ^^

ABCD May 13, 2010 at 2:37 am

Great site:)
really helped with my assignment!

philinshelton May 31, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Glad you found the information useful!

darlene galleron August 18, 2010 at 3:43 am

thanks!u have really help me in my assignment

melaniejadehepelopo September 2, 2010 at 6:06 am

hepelopo you help me in my assignment thanks hepelopo

vince January 27, 2011 at 3:17 am

which part of the stem has relatively longer internodes

aidil ikhwan February 9, 2011 at 9:42 am

thanks a lot,.i really need this info..

philinshelton February 9, 2011 at 9:47 pm

The base of the stem, be it culm or branch, has shorter internodes.

Mike February 13, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Hello your article on bamboo is very good. I have two questions; 1) the interior of the clum (space between plates) contains what as the plant grows? Is it simply air? 2) Do bamboo plants stop growing at maturity?

Thanks

David March 13, 2011 at 7:31 pm

Are culms used for food storage? I’ve heard conflicting information about this.

My question is more than theoretical:

About a month ago, I transplanted a B. multiplex ‘Alphonse Karr’ from the yard of someone who didn’t want it anymore. To get it all to fit, I had to cut off probably 1/5 of the culms (I tried to pick deader looking ones) and about 80% of the foliage. The roots and rhizomes, however, remained intact.

Oh, and I also had to divide the original mass into 3 parts to make it even possible to carry. It was too heavy otherwise.

Just today I noticed some new culm shoots (survivor shoots?), so now that I know it’s not dead:

1. Should I leave the leafless culms alone?
2. Will the currently leafless culms sprout new leaves?
3. Or should I clearcut it to the ground?

It seems #3 would be bad if food energy is stored in the culms.

philinshelton March 17, 2011 at 10:21 am

Culms, especially those of clumping bamboos are used for food storage, as well as the transport of water and nutrients up to the foliage leaves, and food back down down to the the roots and rhizome for new growth. So, in answer to your questions:

1. Yes, leave the leafless culms alone. If they are dead, you will know after a month or so (provided temperatures are warm enough for growth to occur).
2. The leafless culms with sprout new leaves in a few weeks, if they are indeed alive. With a magnifying glass you will be able to see the buds swelling before the leaves emerge
3. Don’t clear cut unless you are absolutely sure the culms are all dead. A more likely scenario is that some are alive and some are dead. Cut back the dead ones to the ground.

Good luck with your divisions, and thanks for the comment!

eric vergara August 22, 2011 at 4:52 pm

re culms used for food storage? I’ve heard conflicting information about this.

My question is more than theoretical:

About a month ago, I transplanted a B. multiplex ‘Alphonse Karr’ from the yard of someone who didn’t want it anymore. To get it all to fit, I had to cut off probably 1/5 of the culms (I tried to pick deader looking ones) and about 80% of the foliage. The roots and rhizomes, however, remained intact.

Oh, and I also had to divide the original mass into 3 parts to make it even possible to carry. It was too heavy otherwise.

Just today I noticed some new culm shoots (survivor shoots?), so now that I know it’s not dead:

1. Should I leave the leafless culms alone?
2. Will the currently leafless culms sprout new leaves?
3. Or should I clearcut it to the ground?

It seems #3 would be bad if food energy is stored in the culms.
and Great site:)
really helped with my assignment! at the last Culms, especially those of clumping bamboos are used for food storage, as well as the transport of water and nutrients up to the foliage leaves, and food back down down to the the roots and rhizome for new growth. So, in answer to your questions:

1. Yes, leave the leafless culms alone. If they are dead, you will know after a month or so (provided temperatures are warm enough for growth to occur).
2. The leafless culms with sprout new leaves in a few weeks, if they are indeed alive. With a magnifying glass you will be able to see the buds swelling before the leaves emerge
3. Don’t clear cut unless you are absolutely sure the culms are all dead. A more likely scenario is that some are alive and some are dead. Cut back the dead ones to the ground.

Good luck with your divisions, and thanks for the comment!

Cheyenne March 16, 2012 at 3:45 am

Great info’ ^_^ It really helped me with my bamboo report I did the morning it was due! :D

Sarah February 1, 2013 at 11:04 am

I know you didn’t write about this, but you wrote there is very little leaf that isn’t surrounding the culm. Is that the only part of the plant that does photosynthesis?

Benjamin September 20, 2013 at 1:43 pm

Question: does anyone know if the solid parts within the culms of Phyllostachys heteroclada become lignified once full matured? I’m talking about the otherwise hollow areas within the culm.

Kin April 13, 2014 at 9:32 pm

I have a question. Where branching occur node or internode? I got about the branches, ” Each internode bears a branch bud(primordium) just above the culm leaf scar (PROSEA, No.7. 1995). Thanks

philinshelton April 21, 2014 at 8:52 pm

branching always occurs at a node.

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