Characteristics of Common Bamboo Tree (Bambusa vulgaris) in the Wild

Bambusa vulgaris
Common bamboo (Bambusa vulgaris) is an open clump bamboo species native to Indochina and Yunnan province in southern China, but has been widely cultivated in many other places and has naturalized in some areas. Among the bamboo species, Bambusa vulgaris is one of the largest and most easily recognized.

Common bamboo is a species of the large genus Bambusa of the Bambuseae tribe, which is commonly found in tropical and subtropical Asia, especially in the wet tropics.



Common bamboo has a variety of uses, including stems used as fuel and leaves used as animal feed, although consumption of large amounts of leaves is known to cause neurological disorders in horses.

The production and trade of Common bamboo worldwide are substantial, although no statistics are available.

Common bamboo trunks are used for fencing and construction, especially small temporary dwellings, including floors, tiles, panels, and walls made wither by splitting the stem. The trunk is used to make many boat parts including masts, rudders, outriggers, and masts. It is also used to make furniture, baskets, windbreaks, flutes, fishing rods, tool handles, stakes, fish bows, smoking pipes, irrigation pipes, distillation pipes, animal or ranch pens, and much more.

Common bamboo is also used as a raw material for paper pulp, especially in India. Paper made from common bamboo has excellent tear strength, comparable to paper made from softwood. It can also be used to make particle board and flexible packaging grade paper.

Bambusa vulgaris var. striata is used as an ornamental tree or as a guardrail. Its shoots boiled in water are sometimes used for medicine. Cultivated worldwide, mainly in East, Southeast, and South Asia. Bambusa vulgaris var. waminii is cultivated in the US and Europe in addition to Asia. Bambusa vulgaris var. vittata is the most popular variety as an ornamental tree and is considered very beautiful. The cultivar ‘Kimmei’ is mostly cultivated in Japan.



Common bamboo is considered in many traditions throughout Asia to have medicinal value. Many uses are found in herbal medicine, although their effects are not clinically proven. In Java, water stored in Common bamboo tubes is used as a medicine for various ailments. In Congo, the leaves are used as part of the treatment of measles, in Nigeria, the leaves are used as an infusion against sexually transmitted diseases and as an abortion.



Once popular as a greenhouse ornamental tree in the 1700s, it was one of the earliest bamboo species introduced to Europe. It is believed to have been introduced to Hawaii during the time of Captain James Cook (late 18th century) and is the most popular houseplant there.

Although not suitable for small yards, as it grows in large clumps, young Common bamboo can be grown in large containers. Common bamboo grows well in full sun or partial shade.


At least three distinct groupings of Bambusa vulgaris varieties include:

  • Green tree.
  • Bambusa vulgaris var. striata – Golden Bamboo. This variety is always with yellow stems and often with green stripes of different intensities. Usually, the stems have thicker walls than the group of green stems.
  • Bambusa vulgaris var. waminii – Buddha belly bamboo. This variety with stems about 3 meters high, 1-3 cm in diameter, green, with 4-10 cm elongated internodes in the middle.

Other fairly common cultivars include:

  • ‘Aureovariegata’ – With rich golden yellow stems streaked with green, sometimes in very thin stripes.
  • ‘Striata’ – Smaller than other varieties, with bright yellow internodes and random markings with longitudinal stripes of light and dark green.
  • ‘Waminii’ – Smaller in size than other varieties with short and flat internodes. Possibly originating from Southern China, ‘Waminii’ bamboo is spread throughout East Asia, Southeast Asia, and South Asia. The bulging segments basically give it a unique look.
  • ‘Vittata’ – Common variety that can grow up to 12 meters tall, has a green barcode-like stripe.
  • ‘Kimmei’ – Stems are yellow, green striped.
  • ‘Maculata’ – Green stems mottled with black, mostly turning black with aging.
  • ‘Wamin Striata’ – Grows up to 5 meters tall, light green with dark green stripes, with swollen underparts.


Characteristics of Common Bamboo Leaf

Bambusa vulgaris Leaf

The leaves of the clump fall with dense pubescence. The leaf blade is narrow lanceolate.


Characteristics of Common Bamboo Flower

Bambusa vulgaris Flower

This tree is flowering, but not common, and there are no seeds. The fruit is rare due to low pollen viability caused by irregular meiosis.

In the space of several decades, the entire clump population grows in size, and individual stems produce a large number of flowers.


Characteristics of Common Bamboo Tree

Bambusa vulgaris Tree

Bamboo trees grow as clumps, each clump having many densely tufted stems that usually grow 10-20 meters high and 4-10 cm thick. The stems are basically straight or flexible and droop at the ends. The stem wall is woody, rather thick, with segments measuring 20-45 cm. Several branches develop from the middle trunk segment upwards.

In its natural habitat, Common bamboo grows on riverbanks, wastelands, and open ground in the lowlands. It is the preferred species for erosion control. It grows best under moist conditions but can tolerate unfavorable conditions such as low temperatures and drought. Although it can be applied to a variety of soil types, Common bamboo grows best in moist soil.

Common bamboo can tolerate frosts up to 3 °C and can grow in areas up to 1,500 m asl, although at higher elevations the stems grow shorter and thinner. In extreme dry seasons, the tree can be completely defoliated.

Common bamboo is widely cultivated in East, Southeast, and South Asia, as well as tropical Africa including Madagascar. It is highly concentrated in the Indomalayan rainforest. This species is one of the most successful bamboos in Pakistan, Tanzania, and Brazil.



The easiest and most widely used cultivation method is to cut the stems or branches. In the Philippines, the best yields are obtained from one-intersection cuttings from the underside of six-month-old stems.

Sometimes, a clump can grow from a stem used for posts, fences, supports, stakes, or posts.


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