A Brief History

The introduction of bamboo into the United States started over a century ago. A few avid collectors were tireless in their efforts to identify, import, and established bamboo in America. USDA introduction stations in Georgia, Louisiana, and California are living monuments to their work.

Today, members of the American Bamboo Society continue to study, identify, and collect new and rare varieties. Society chapters and members maintain five regional quarantine greenhouses to observe new imports and comply with USDA requirements. All new bamboo imports must be quarantined for one year before release. Even so, dozens of new varieties have been introduced since the Society formed twenty years ago.

The popularity of bamboo is currently on the rise in the United States. More information is appearing in the media and plants are now available at larger nurseries and garden centers. Many landscapers and gardeners are considering its use in the landscape.

Unfortunately, the increase in interest and availability has not helped to curtail the common myths and misinformation concerning bamboo. Recent articles on the topic repeat old misconceptions, adding confusion to an already little understood plant.

There are several reasons for this misunderstanding concerning bamboo. There is little cultural data currently available. Existing compilations of bamboo heights and hardiness usually cite facts gathered from bamboo grown in optimal conditions. Since bamboo performs quite differently in colder areas, one has to grow and observe a species to collect regional data.

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