Feng Shui—i.e., the ancient Chinese practice of arranging your living space to create balance with the natural world—paints “lucky” bamboo (Bambusa vulgaris and Bambusa arundinaceae) as a force to attract positive energy. It is said to bring good health, peace, happiness, prosperity, longevity and luck into the home.1 More tangible uses of bamboo go back to the beginnings of civilization, including as fuel, rafts, writing paper and eating utensils. Building materials date back to some 9,500 years ago, and bamboo mats and baskets, to 3,300-2,800 B.C.2
Since ancient times in Asia, bamboo leaves were used to wrap food to prevent its deterioration. The leaves are described in traditional medicine as well for treating hypertension, arteriosclerosis, cardiovascular disease and certain forms of cancer. These therapeutic properties are most likely mediated by their antioxidant capacity.2
Grown throughout Asia, Africa, and the Americas, bamboo refers to any one of approximately 1,450 species in the Poaceae family. Bamboo is technically a grass, and while most species are native to warm and hot tropical climates, they are quite hardy and can grow in cool, mountainous regions and highland cloud forests. They are among the fastest growing plants in the world, capable of growing between 23-36 inches in a single day.3, 4 This growth rate is dependent on local soil and climate conditions, as well as the species. A more typical growth rate in temperate climates ranges 1-4 inches per day (during the growing period).4
This rapid growth, as well as tolerance for marginal land, make bamboo a good candidate for afforestation, carbon sequestration and climate change mitigation.4 It also makes bamboo a highly sustainable option for everything from packaging and textiles, to eating utensils and cookware, musical instruments, furniture, writing materials and more.