What is Bamboo
Bamboo, classified as a grass, grows in abundance in Indonesia – particularly so on the island of Java. It has many purposes and supports many livelihoods ranging from traditional use such as food (age less than one month) – handicrafts like basketry (age 6-9 months) – instrument as in bamboo tattoo or flute – laminations (age 2-3 years) to furniture, construction for scaffolding and garden products such as fences and trellis (age 3-6 years). Bamboo textiles are gaining in popularity as well. Bamboo is officially classified as a grass and some species can grow up to 30+ cm per day; in short bamboo is a marvelous gift from nature!
Bamboo is a very resilient plant that can be planted in poor soil areas and requires little water. It reproduces itself through and extensive rhizome root system which do not require any fertilizer. At the same time it will improve the water household of soil, avoids erosion of soil when planted near the banks of streams and rivers, last, but not least provides humus through its leaves and absorbs co2.
Bamboo is a sustainable resource when harvested in a proper manner and grows practically everywhere from mountainous areas to sawa’s and forests. Traditionally bamboo has been harvested in accordance with the moon calendar claiming more sweetness when full or with a new moon and was treated in rivers for bugs for lengthly times. There after it was sundried to become a sturdy resource for construction or furniture. Nowadays and for commercial purposes that process has been sped up by the use of chemicals whereas sun drying for 10 – 12 days is still a better option compared to solar or fossil fueled ovens. The drying of our bamboo takes place in the sunny and wind swept sawa’s around Yogyakarta, whereas we do support solar and fossil fuelled methods throughout the rainy season to meet demand of bamboo supplies.
There are many varieties of bamboo, but we predominantly work with 4 species of bamboo as follows:
- Bamboo Wulung or bamboo Java a.k.a Gigantochioa Atroviolacea
This has been the most popular tropical black bamboo during the past decade. It is used for its natural beauty – the color varying from light brown to black depending on its exposure to light. The mountainous bamboo variety often is darker due to the growth of mildew and mosses in higher conditions. It grows in a tight clump at the base, but opens up as the culms arch outward, like a fountain. When mature it grows up to 40′ – 50’ in height with 3″ – 4” culms. We use mostly the diameter 2” to 4” for our fence range as diameters below 2” have a tendency to be more tapering this not equally big at either end of the tube. The balance of the bamboo ‘tree’ is used for purposes of handicrafts and blind making; occasionally as fossil fuel for the roof tile and traditional pottery industry here in the villages.
- Bamboo Petung a.k.a. Dendrocalamus Asper
This is an impressive timber bamboo that grows rapidly under prevailing conditions here in Indonesia. Its walls can be as thick as 2” and feels and looks more like a wood on the inside. The shoots are rather large and also serve of the highest quality for food. The new shoots are a furry silver brown in color and velvet when one touches it. This is the superior bamboo of all Indonesian species and is widely used in the construction industry. It can attain 65′ – 70’ in height and 5″ – 10” dia. Culms when harvested. It takes up to 3 – 4 weeks to properly sundry.
- Bamboo Apus or yellow bamboo a.k.a. Gigantochioa Apus
This Java native bamboo specimen has large leaves and thick-walled culms, which are densely hairy when still young. Clump growth is fairly open, with bamboo culms erect or arching above.
Tabasheer a.k.a. Tabashir is a translucent white or sometimes bluish substance, composed mainly of silica and water with traces of lime and potash. It is harvested from within the culms, at the nodal joints of bamboo culms. It is especially sought after when bluish in color. It is claimed that Tabasheer provides a variety of health benefits and is used in traditional Indian and Chinese medicines. Tabasheer is widely used in a variety of health treatments like in use for antispasmodic – restorative and aphrodisiac purposes (Wikipedia). It will grow up to 65′ – 70’ tall with 4″ – 5” diameter bamboo culms.
- Tiger bamboo mottled or bamboo Tutul a.k.a. Bambusa Maculata
These are green bamboo culms with occasional cream stripes. It is unique in that the culms dry with an unusual mottled pattern of brown spots covering the entire culms. It is used extensively throughout Indonesia for bamboo furniture making. At maturity it will be about 35′-40′ tall with 3″- 4”dia. Bamboo culms. This bamboo is not available in abundance everywhere in java – as many claim – and is traditionally used for the furniture industry.