Fargesia sp.

Today’s write-up is courtesy once again of BPotD work-study student Bryant DeRoy. He writes:

This exceptional image by Eckhard Volcker (aka Tatcher a Hainu@Flickr) is a cross-section of a Fargesia species, or a clumping bamboo (Poaceae). Eckhard, your submission via the Botany Photo of the Day flickr page is much appreciated! To see more of Eckhard’s work, also visit his web site: Wunderkanone.

The process of taking such images through a light microscope is known as photomicrography. This thin section of bamboo stem was treated with a number of stains and then viewed through a light microscope with a polarized light filter. The use of stains helps to highlight the cellular structures of this bamboo cross-section. The structures outlined in fuchsia are the vascular bundles. The fuchsia stain is concentrated in the vascular fibres that surround the vascular bundles and also form a ring just inside the epidermis.

Densely packed longitudinal cellulose fibres (held together by lignin) that make up roughly 40% of the stem or culm (60-70% by weight) are the main contributing factor to the general strength and durability of bamboo. The structure of these fibres allows some species of bamboo to reach considerable heights, especially for a grass! For more information on the cellular structure of monocotyledons, visit Wayne Armstrong’s Stem and Root Anatomy teaching page.

The cellular structure of the bamboo culm is also responsible for its use in a wide variety of applications. Bamboo is gaining popularity as a sustainable crop because of its high rate of growth and high crop density. Another major attribute is that the relative strength of bamboo remains fairly even over its lifetime and does not tend to correlate with age, whereas most wood gets stronger as it grows older (in other words, it can be harvested earlier). Read The Structure of Bamboo in Relation to its Properties and Utilization (PDF) for more on these topics!

The cultivation of some bamboos, however, have also led to problems with invasiveness in some instances. Many species of bamboo grow from horizontally-spreading and self-propagating rhizomes, which aid in their ability to take over areas and shade out other species (being clumping species, though, Fargesia species are generally considered “well-behaved” and not invasive). As some of you may know, some bamboos can be difficult to remove once established as they can regenerate from their underground rhizomes, even if the above ground shoots have been removed.

Fargesia sp.

5 responses to “Fargesia sp.”

  1. Ann Kent HTM

    This is a stunning image. As the page loaded, I thought I was looking at an exquisite piece of cloisonnee. My students will love it.
    Thank you for such a different perspective on a plant that many of us in the Vancouver area have rejected for cultivation as we have inherited an invasive type that crosses lot lines, pops up through street surfaces, and upsets neighbourly relations!
    Regards, Ann.

  2. Ruth Garry

    Thanks for such a great post with links! I’ve just shared this entry with my class of masters of landscape architecture students here in Melbourne Australia. We don’t learn very much about plants in the course and so blogs like this really help diversify our knowledge and grow our resources. We’re working on some very conceptual parameters and experiments with a site and this post is inspirational. The plant structures and systems help us to see the similarities and develop physical forms between biology and social/economic ecosystems.

  3. Alexader Jablanczy

    Tree or grass.
    Some decades ago the son of an ecology prof at UNB a Dr Krajina had a high school biology exam where he was penalised as he called the bamboo a grass. The teacher insisted that the bambo is a tree for it is used in construction eg scaffolding and is made of wood. Of course biologically it a monocot a grass but functionally it is made of wood. Same thing was true of ferns as they were trees in the Carboniferous.
    And my favourite tennis racket which is very forgiving of bad hits is a bamboo racket and it cannot cause tennis elbow. Then I had a patient bring in a cherished hundred year old fly fishing rod which was also made of strips of glued together bamboo. A true work of art. Finally Japanese and Chinese flutes and recorders or shiatzu are also made of bamboo. There is hardly a more versatile GRASS which is a TREE.
    Supposedly bamboo can grow so fast that you can observe it as you watch. Just like in the right conditions you can see the moon move across the trees.
    If you want to see organic architecture have a look at Gaudi and Makovecz.

  4. Trisha Mason

    The first thing I thought of was crocheted lace, such lovely pattern, color and composition. Then reading that it was bamboo under microscope I was reminded of the experiments we did way back in 7th grade biology with celery and food coloring where a cross section of the celery showed the same colorful vascular bundles. There is always something here that is new and fresh as well as nostalgic and warm. What a wonderful way to begin the morning here in chem lab land.

  5. Mary Beth Borchardt

    Thank you for introducing me to this man and his website. Thoroughly enjoyed learning and viewing into a world I have missed since my microbiology classes in college. As a person of artistic persuasion I find his photos combine the best of my two favorite worlds of intellectual endeavor.
    Many thanks for today.

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