The Northern California Chapter
of the
American Bamboo Society


Bamboo Glossary


- Auricle: an ear-like appendage that occurs at the base of some leaves.


- Cilium (pl. Cilia): one of the marginal hairs bordering the auricle. Syn.: Aural setae


- Caepitose: growing in tufts, or close clumps, as in bamboos with sympodial rhizomes.


- Clone: all the plants reproduced, vegetatively, from a single parent. In theory, all the plants from the same clone have the same genotype (genetic inheritance).


- Clumping: (opposite of running) these bamboos have short rhizomes and are not invasive. They are useful in small yards and many varieties do quite well in Northern California.


- Culm: the main stem of the Graminae (grasses). The stem of a bamboo is also referred as a cane.


- Culm Sheath: the plant casing (similar to a leaf) that protects the young bamboo shoot during growth, attached at each node of culm. Useful for identification of the species.


- Cultivar: seedling sports from a species which have multiplied from a single clonal source. A sport is a plant abnormally departing, especially in form or color, from the parent stock; a spontaneous mutation.


- Gregarious flowering: usually occurs when all plants in a single clone (which has been repeatedly divided and distributed) flower at about the same time.


- Guttation: water expelled over night as droplets from the tips of bamboo leaves.


- Internode: segment of culm, branch, or rhizome between nodes.


- Leptomorphic: temperate, running bamboo rhizome. It’s usually thinner then the culms they support and the internodes are long and hollow.


- Monopodial: describes the growth habit of the rhizomes of running temperate bamboos. The main rhizome continues to grow underground, with some buds producing side shoots (new rhizomes) and others producing aerial shoots (new culms).


- Node: the joint between hollow segments of a culm, branch, or rhizome; the point at which a rigid membrane of vascular bundles lends strength to an axis of bamboo by crossing it from wall to wall.


- Pachymorphic: describes the rhizomes of clumping bamboos. They are short and usually thicker then the culms they produce. These rhizomes have a circular cross-section that diminishes towards the tips. The internodes are short, thick (except the bud-bearing internodes, which are more elongated) and solid (with no cavities). See also Sympodial.


- Rhizome: a food-storing branch of the underground system of growth in bamboos from buds of which culms emerge above ground. Popularly known as rootstock, rhizomes are basically of two forms: sympodial (tropical, clumping, Pachimorph) and monopodial (temperate, running, Leptomorph).


- Rhizome sheath: husk-like protective organ attached basally to each rhizome node.


- Running: (opposite of clumping) describes a bamboo whose rhizomes have a markedly horizontal growth habit, and tend to develop just under the surface of the soil. Running bamboos are frequently invasive and rhizome barriers are advised. They tend to be hardier than clumpers.


- Shoot: the stage in the development of the bud before it becomes a culm with branches and leaves.


- Sulcus: a groove or depression running along the internodes of culms or branches.


- Sympodial: describes the growth habit of the rhizomes of caespitose bamboos. The rhizomes emerge from the lateral buds of other rhizomes, while the terminal buds produce new culms. See also Pachymorphic.


- Turion: the tender young shoot as it emerges from the ground without branches or leaves.


[Adapted from The Book of Bamboo (Farrelly D., 1984) and Bamboos (Crouzet Y. and Starosta P., 1996) by Marco Piazza ]


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