||The Malay name bambu for these giant grasses was adopted by Linnaeus for the name of this genus, which now consists of about 120 species, the majority from tropical and subtropical Asia but with a smaller group from tropical America. They are all medium to large, ranging from about 15 ft (4.5 m) to 80 ft (24 m) in height, with smooth cylindrical stems rising in dense compact clumps from a tangled mass of thick short rhizomes. In most species the stems are hollow except at the nodes; from all but the lowest few nodes wiry lateral branches emerge bearing the leaves, the shape and texture of which betray bamboo?s membership of the huge grass family. A conspicuous feature is the large pale scale-leaves that sheath the young stems, which are cast off as each stem matures. Flowering is rarely seen in these bamboos and even when they do flower, at long and irregular intervals, the slender, arching flowering branches may hardly be noticed. Some species exhibit the phenomenon of gregarious flowering, in which plants of the one species or clone set seed and flower simultaneously all around the world, and may afterwards die. Together with other bamboo genera, Bambusa provides a wealth of products: the ?timber? of many species is used for constructing houses, boats, bridges, fences and furniture, among other items, while several provide edible bamboo shoots (though Phyllostachys is more important for the latter use).
||CULTIVATION: They are vigorous growers once established, but most require a tropical or subtropical climate. However, there are several species that are frost hardy to varying degrees, some surviving winter temperatures as low as 10.4?F (?12?C). All species appreciate a deep, fertile, loamy soil with ample water supply in summer and a sheltered but sunny position, but they will survive and sometimes grow well under more adverse conditions. Propagation is normally by offsets, consisting of at least one fully grown and hardened stem cut off where its rhizome segment branches from an older rhizome and shortened to 3 to 4 nodes above ground level; bury the offset in soil or a large container, flood with water, mulch the soil and apply fertilizer as soon as new growth shows. For some species a long length of stem will sprout and root at the nodes if buried horizontally.