open main page for all woods          open page 2 for articles


botanical name unknown

There are at least 59 species from 22 genera that have the word bamboo as all or part of one or more of their common names and I have no idea which of them are represented on this page except as specifically noted. Most of the species are in either the genus Bambusa or or the genus Phyllostachys but at least 2 dozen are in various other genera.

Because of the way it grows, bamboo does not produce "lumber" in the normal sense and everything you see that is made of bamboo and is more than an inch or so wide is made of laminations of strips that are cut from the round stalk. Technically, bamboo is not wood at all, but rather is a type of grass, just like the palms. It grows as a hollow tube but with knuckles spaced regularly along its length. Really large stalks can grow to several inches in diameter with knuckles more than a foot apart.

"Carbonization" of bamboo is a steaming process that weakens the wood by about 25% but makes it more pliable and changes the color from fairly white to more tan. This process also makes the grain stand out more than in the natural wood. Carbonized bamboo is less appropriate for flooring because it scratches more easily than uncarbonized bamboo.

"Caramelization" of bamboo is a steaming process that caramelizeds the sugars in bamboo thus changing the color from pretty white to more of a honey color.

One of the things to note about bamboo is that the distribution of the "pores" is not uniform but rather is relatively sparse at the inside near the hollow center and denser near the outer skin.

my samples:
NOTE: these pics were all taken in very bright incandescent lighting ("soft white" at 2700K)
colors will vary under other lighting conditions

various types of bamboo, shot at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, and a closeup of one of them. This shows very nicely how bamboo has only a thin outer layer of "wood" broken up frequently by the "knuckles" thus explaining why bamboo flooring is always made of small strips laminated together and exhibiting frequent blotchy areas going across the grain which are the knuckles. HUGE enlargements are present and you can read the signs on some of them. The end grain on the closeup shows the same characteristics as the flooring sample directly below but I forgot to make a note of what type of bamboo it is but based on the end grain I'm pretty confident that it's "moso" (Phyllostachys edulis) the same as the large fat green one in the middle.

both sides of a sample plank of moso bamboo / Phyllostachys edulis --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by Mark Peet whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.

end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above

END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above

tiny "plank" showing the "knuckle" as a dark vertical stripe

flooring sample and end grain --- obviously a laminate and almost certainly moso bamboo / Phyllostachys edulis

end grain closeup from the flooring sample directly above

business card holder contributed to the site by Garry Painter whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. Based on the
END GRAIN UPDATE I'd say this has to be a laminate of moso bamboo / Phyllostachys edulis

small, thin, pices of bamboo with a fungal growth that causes them to be called "dirty bamboo" according to Mark Shade, who gave them to me, and whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.

web pics:

natural and carbonized bamboo for comparison

plank listed as bamboo / Phyllostachys pubescens and with wet and dry sections

end grain

planks --- note: some bamboo planks are specifically listed as "laminated" but as far as I am aware ALL bamboo planks are laminated since there just isn't any other way to make them

plank listed as bamboo / Phyllostachis spp.

veneer --- I have never seen bamboo veneer but I assume the washed out color is either incorrect or there is some bleaching process used in the veneer creation.

veneer listed as bamboo / Phyllostachy heterocycla

veneer listed as carmelized bamboo / Phyllostachy heterocycla.

veneer listed as bamboo / Phyllostachys edulis

steamed veneer listed as bamboo / Phyllostachys edulis


bowls --- you can see the segmenting pretty clearly

unsegmented bamboo vase made by Mike Hawkins out of a large bamboo stalk, and the stages of construction. The finish is analine dye. Note how neatly Mike made a bead at the bottom of the vase to make the natural ring on the bamboo fit right into the design. Enlargements are present on all but the first pic. Whatever kind of bamboo this is, it has unusually thick walls.

very interestingly crafted bamboo cutting board --- I