TO HEINRICHER, bamboo is the perfect plant.
Thomas Edison used carbonized bamboo filament in his first light bulb; Alexander Graham Bell created his first phonograph needle from a bamboo sliver. With tensile strength up to 52,000 pounds per square inch, bamboo is stronger than most steel, yet its fibers can be spun into a silky cloth blessed by natural antimicrobials.
Since antiquity, bamboo has been cooked as food and crafted into chopsticks, houses, boats, furniture, scaffolding, farm tools, medical instruments and art. It’s been gulped as an aphrodisiac and swallowed as a treatment for asthma, kidney failure, venereal disease and cancer
Unlike cotton, bamboo doesn’t require pesticides to flourish. It needs modest amounts of water to thrive — some species rise a foot a day during growing season — and its root system can help stabilize hillsides and prevent erosion. When you harvest some of a stand’s canes, the underground rhizomes survive and continue to quickly produce mature culms, unlike trees that die when chopped down.