A thicket of bamboo forests were once a common plant growth in the Southern USA . It can be also grown almost any where as there are over 1400 species , many of which are cold tolerant. The stands are usually found close to streams and creeks or any low-lying area that will collect moisture. Bamboo is often referred to as cane and it is our largest grass.
It is loaded with nutrition and can be consumed by livestock as well as humans. Livestock flourish with the consumption and cows are known to have richer butter and milk in the process. Native Americans used the new shoots for stew additives and salads. The bamboo also attracts wildlife and that will make a good hunting spot. Birds, rabbits, turkeys , small mammals as well as butterflies are attracted to the cane for cover.
Pioneers and Native Americans used bamboo to make fish traps and spears that were sharpened to gig frogs and fish , as well as to hunt. Blow gun darts were also crafted from cane to hunt small game.
Native Americans and early settlers made shelters by splitting cane stalks and then weaving them into large mats and fixing them to frames with ropes or binding . Then there was an application of mud and grass packed onto the mats to seal them . The smaller diameter bamboo stalks were woven for floor mats or cots to sleep on. The bamboo was also used as a wind breaker for shelter.
The cane has been used to create knives, scrapers, bow and cane drills , flutes. decorations and games.
The plant is still used to prevent soil erosion . Most commonly this is what it is used for in modern times. It is also a good privacy screen.
If growing bamboo can be a useful item in your yard then you can be successful in its cultivation by selecting the variety that will develop well in your location. You might have to do some research with a local landscaper. Once it is established do not over harvest the crop as you will need a stand to continue its propagation. Plant near streams or rivers or in low-lying areas that will be a recipient of water drainage. Then keep in mind that this plant can be aggressive . Control the growth by harvesting the new shoots for your salads and soups. It is rich in crude protein, calcium and phosphorus .
For more in depth information please refer to the revised edition of the Missouri Conservationist Magazine. Originally published in October 2002 and revised by A.J. Hendershott on November 12, 2010.
Thank you Julie for sending this to share.
Down a new road with y’all. Grandma Jean