Bamboo Glossary

This bamboo glossary and terminology list will help you understand and identify some of the terms used in relation to bamboo and their growth habits, some of which are also useful in identification of species.

Aerial Root is a bamboo root growing above ground

Amphipodial is a term for rhizome systems that are both mobopodial and sympodial.

Auricle is an ear shaped extension that may occur on the sides of a sheath, either culm or branch sheaths. They are not always present and are varied in size according to species.

Axis is growing points on rhizomes, culms or branches.

Culm Sheath being Discarded from Yellow Groove - Golden Crookstem Bamboo Plant

Bamboo is a sub family of Poaceae (grasses), called Bambusoideae.

Bud is a dormant small swelling that's a growth point for producing branches and leaves on culms, or forming shoots or new rhizomes on rhizomes.

Branch Sheath, or Leaf Sheath, provides protection of nodes, buds, and emerging leaves. Not all branch sheaths have true leaves emerging from them; there are some branch sheaths, usually at the base of branches that are shed without producing leaves.

Caepitose is often used for describing tightly formed pachymorph rhizomes of clumping bamboos, a growing behaviour characterisation of short necked rhizome systems.

Ciliate fringe of hairs, such as is sometimes noticeable on the surface of culm sheaths.

Cilium (pl. cilia) is one hair which is part of the hairs that border auricles, often forming Ciliate... fringes of hairs.

Clone is a genetically identical plant to the parent plant they originated from via vegetative propagation.

Clumping is a common word for sympdial, or pachymorph, tightly forming clump growth characteristics.

Culm is the stem of grasses (graminae) and therefore in bamboo is the cane, or main stem, that is growing above ground.

Culm Sheath is a culm protection that covers emerging culms and new shoots of branches on the culms. The culm sheath is sometimes used as part of species identification within a genus. Culm Leaf is a term often used in the US.

Foliage Leaf is a true leaf emerging from a branch and that plays a major part in bamboos photosynthesis processes.

Gregarious Flowering occurs in some bamboo species, often called mass flowering, and is when many bamboos in different locations across the world flower at the same time.

Internode is the segment of the rhizome, culm, or branch that is between two nodes.

Leaf Sheath is the sheath on a branch that protects the true leaf that is attached by a petiole.

Leptomorph is the rhizome system of species of temperate running bamboo that spread rapidly or become invasive where spreading is not controlled or wanted. The rhizomes generally have long, hollow, internodes and are narrower than the above ground culms.

Monopodial is a descriptive for the growth habits of running bamboo rhizomes, best described as one stem from which buds branch into side shoots, either producing new rhizomes or culms.

Nodal Diaphragm is the solid part of the node separating the two hollow internodes.

Node is the part of the bamboo, often pronounced, from which culm sheaths, new shoots, branches, foliage leaves, flowers, buds, and roots grow.

Petiole is part of the leaf sheath attaching the true leaf to the branch via the leaf sheath.

Propagule is part of the rhizome that can be used for the purpose of propagation.

Rhizome is the underground part of the plant that stores food, is structured similarly to the above ground structure, and is made up of culms, roots, nodes, and internodes.

Roots are part of the underground structure of the plant and are tasked with collecting nutrients and water along with providing anchorage to keep the bamboo stable. There are no nodes and internodes on bamboo roots.

Running Bamboo are species that have monpodial/leptomorph rhizome systems of growth that enable the plant to colonise new areas.

Sheath is a protection encasing new shoots emerging from either the culm nodes or branch nodes. Some species retain these sheaths on the culms, others discard them as the branches and leaves emerge.

Sheath Scar is a ring round the lower part of nodes where the sheath was originally attached and can be quite distinctive in some species.

Image on the right shows examples of a Sheath Scar and Sulcus.

Shoot is a new culm growing up from the ground, some of which are edible (but not all species).

Sulcus is used to describe a vertical groove running the length of internodes and can be different colours in some species. Sometimes used as a descriptive part of a common name.

Sympodial is used to describe the system of rhizomes or branching rhizome habits of clumping bamboo where new rhizomes turn upwards to develop new culms.

I am always looking at improving this bamboo glossary so if you have anything you'd like me to add to it please contact me.