Lumber Bamboo

Asked December 12, 2019, 11:35 AM EST

This cartoon from The Washington Post this week reminded me of an abiding curiosity of mine. I am a great fan of bamboo for lumber and other uses. It also reportedly has value for carbon sequestration. However, what we typically have growing around here are relatively small varieties, compared to what I saw on a recent trip to Japan. I understand that there is no reason that lumber bamboo species should be able to grow in Maryland. With a sensitivity to caution about invasive species, is there any way of introducing it in a well controlled planting? Is anyone in the area now growing lumber, or timber, bamboo on a commercial basis?

Prince George's County Maryland

1 Response

Some bamboo is grown commercially in the U.S., usually in remote areas (of which Maryland now has little). Yes, bamboo is in Maryland, where it is considered an invasive plant.

The environmental damage from this plant can be enormous. It is highly invasive and control demands extensive measures which few homeowners can afford or successfully do, unfortunately. When it escapes, the cost and labor required to eliminate it are daunting, if not impossible for various reasons.

The environmental benefits of bamboo do not outweigh its drawbacks at this time. Native plants also perform carbon sequestration and are crucial for the ecosystem which relies on them.

Here is our page on bamboo: https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/bamboo

Ellen