Bamboo (Bambusa Bambos)
The bamboo is a tall, thorny, gregarious and giant grass whose culms rise high and close together from a pale, subterranean root-stock. The culms are a bright shining green, turning straw, coloured when dry. Bamboo varies in size and may be up to 6 m to 15 m long and 2.5 to 15 cm in diameter with prominent internodes, 46 cm long and hollow. The branch-lets are sharp with spines at the nodes. It is found along river valleys at moist areas and is abundant in forests of the Western Ghats.
The great strength and superior size of the culms suit them for building purposes. They are largely used for making thatties and mats. The small branches are mainly used for fencing. The bamboo seed is sought out as food in times of famine. A floury substance called Tabasheer, often found in the joints is used as a medicine. The bamboo is traditionally used as a stretcher for carrying the dead body of Hindus to the cremation place. It is also used for making popular musical instruments like the flute.
The other species of bamboo, the male bamboo (Dendro Calamus Strictus) is solid and used for lathis, lance shafts, axe handles, agricultural and industrial implements, walking sticks, mats, baskets and work as post rafters in temporary buildings. The pulp is used to make superior quality writing paper. Some species of bamboo are used for umbrella handles. The tribal people still use bamboo culms as water bottles. All species of bamboo serve as good fodder for elephants. Fishermen use bamboo to build rafts.