The plant world has not finished surprising us. Between the trees that live for millennia, plants capable of surviving extreme conditions, plants that grow at full speed, or simply the tallest trees, some records are breathtaking.
We often hear that bamboo is the fastest growing plant in the world. Some are even said to grow so fast per day that you can see them grow with the naked eye. And that’s not all, this fast growing bamboo has even been used for torture in the past!
What is the fastest growing bamboo in the world?
The best known giant species is Phyllostachus Pubescens (up to 15-20 meters long, 4-5 inches in diameter), its growth can exceed 1.10 m in 24 hours. originating from China, where it is called ‘moso bamboo’).
It is the backbone of the Chinese bamboo industry. Other well-known giant species are Guadua Angustifolia and Dendrocalamus Asper, which grow in tropical regions, both known for their enormous size (up to 25 meters high and up to 45 inches in diameter) and good structural properties. Guadua is known in particular for its resistance.
More about moso bamboo (Phyllostachus Pubescens)
Moso bamboo (= Phyllostachys pubescens = Phyllostachys edulis) is a giant woody bamboo with high economic, ecological and cultural value in many countries around the world. It is one of the fastest growing bamboos in the world.
This record-breaking giant bamboo is the species with the largest surface area in China and the third most widely used species for the production of wood for furniture and construction.
It is also the most widely used bamboo for the production of shoots for the food market. Moreover, etymologically, edulis means “edible, edible, good to eat” in Latin.
And what interests us most here is its enormous growth rate per day! Indeed, Moso bamboo has a fast growth per day: up to 1.10 meter per day only! (See study in the sources of the article)
It’s almost 2 inches per hour… And almost 0.04 inches per minute. By staying a few minutes with our eyes fixed on the Moso bamboo, we should be able to see it growing!
In addition to its very fast growth per day, the dimensions that this bamboo can reach are impressive. It can reach a height of up to 28 meters and a diameter of up to 45 inches.
Moreover, in bamboos, the young shoot (or “turion”), comes out of the ground with its final diameter, unlike trees. Can you imagine a bamboo shoot of 45 inches in diameter coming out of the ground? Impressive isn’t it?
Even if Moso bamboo has a very fast growth, it is not the bamboo that can reach the highest height in the world.
Indeed, some species of tropical bamboo of the genus Dendrocalamus can reach more than 30 meters in height. For example, the giant non-tracing bamboo Dendrocalamus giganteus can reach 35 meters in height.
How does moso bamboo grow so fast?
The growth of a bamboo stem is attributed to a sequential elongation of the internodes, starting with the basal internode (Cui et al. 2012).
Indeed, when the bamboo shoot emerges from the ground, all the nodes and internodes are already present in it. They are nested inside each other like in a Russian doll! This structure is particularly effective for a very fast growth.
In addition, growth hormones are accumulated at the top of the shoot (auxins, gibberellins and cytokinins). These growth hormones will then promote the rapid growth of the young shoot into an adult stubble within a few weeks.
Finally, the cell configuration in bamboo and the expression of certain genes such as expansins promote a rapid elongation of the cells in the basal internodes of the young shoot. (Gamuyao, R. et al, 2017)
How to use the rapid growth of bamboo to torture victims?
When it comes to torture, we can say that our ancestors did not lack imagination… And the speed of growth of bamboo gave ideas to some.
The Supplice du Pal consisted in impaling victims through the sternum, or more commonly through the anus of the condemned man with a vertical stake.
Thus, a variant was used in the Far East called “the bamboo chair. The victim was then tied to a support above a young bamboo shoot. The young bamboo shoot having a very your speed of growth, I let you guess the rest!
Phyllostachys pubescens or edulis (Moso bamboo) is a giant tracing bamboo that can reach a growth of 1.10 meter in 24 hours and 30 meters in 40 to 50 days, due to the expansion of the individual internodes that are already present in the shoot just emerging from the ground.