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Parts of a Bamboo Plant – Clumping vs Running

Parts of a Bamboo Plant – Clumping vs Running: Bamboos are members of the grass family. They are common in the temperate and tropical zones mainly in Asia, Central and South America and the Pacific region.

The bamboos’ woody stems tend to grow rapidly. Like the other grass species, bamboos have hollow stems, slender (bladed) leaves that form formidable evergreen foliage.

Parts of a bamboo plant

This outline will help you to identify the 10 common parts of a bamboo plant. In fact, knowing the different parts is important for understanding your bamboo plant.

Let’s take a quick look at these parts starting from the ground up.


Bamboo rhizomes are common in both running and clumping bamboos.

In the running bamboos, the rhizomes are also known as the horizontal underground stems. As the name implies, the rhizomes run along the ground and spread aggressively.

In the clumping bamboos, the rhizomes tend to keep close together and form tight bases or clumps, hence the name clumping bamboos.

The rhizomes are the ‘engine rooms’ where a bamboo plant derives its ‘power’ and ‘energy’ for growth and development.

Bamboo Roots

Bamboo roots are not rhizomes. The roots, feeding roots or root hairs, are the thin underground tendrils that grow into the soil, usually from the rhizome nodes.

The roots are vital for nutrient and water uptake and for supporting the whole bamboo plant.

Bamboo Leaves

Bamboo leaf and foliage are often used interchangeably to mean the same thing, however,

there is a difference. A leaf is the single green vegetative part of the bamboo that appears on the branch, whereas foliage refers to a cluster of leaves.

Bamboo growers say, ‘there are lots of green leaves on the bamboo’ or alternatively they say ‘this evergreen foliage is pretty’. That latter sounds right, hey!

Either way, the bamboo leaves create notable evergreen foliage that appears all year round. Of course, the leaves are also vitally significant for photosynthesis and transpiration in bamboo plants.

Bamboo Culms

Bamboo culms are often referred to as bamboo stems or canes. The culms start off from the ground as tender shoots. The culms are cylindrical and have nodes between two internodes.

Bamboo culms are usually hollow with different thicknesses. The lower parts of the bamboo culms are the culm base and culm petiole which are found either underneath the ground or just above it.

What are the different parts of bamboo culms?

parts of a bamboo culms -structure and anatomy
@G.B.P. image
  1. Tips: The bamboo tips are the’ telescopic’ ends of the new shoots with sheath blades sticking out the sides. Inside the tips, there are lots of activities such as cell divisions and differentiation.
  2. Shoots: The final thickness of the internodes and nodes are already laid down, pre-determined, in the shoots. They grow in length into culms, produce branches and leaves.
  3. Buds: Buds from the base of the bamboo grow into shoots and rhizomes. The ‘lateral’ buds appear at the node and grow into branches.
  4. Culm Sheaths: the sheaths are cloth-like covers that wrap around the new shoots as they emerge and fall off as they mature into culms.
  5. Nodes: The solid joints are called nodes. They form circular rims around the bamboo culms, every two nodes enclose a hollow internode.
  6. Internodes: The internodes are the hollow cylindrical part between two nodes. Some internodes are oval-shaped like those of the Buddha Belly bamboo.
  7. Branches: The main branches often grow out of the culm nodes. Each branch often has its own branch nodes and leaves. All the branches and leaves put together makes up the bamboo evergreen foliage.
  8. Sulcus: This is the shallow indentation that runs from the branches up the internodes, often conspicuous in Phyllostachys bamboos.
  9. Stem base: This is the lower part of the bamboo culm, sometimes seen just above the ground. This is the region where new bamboo shoots grow.
  10. Stem petiole: This is the lowest part of the bamboo that connects to the rhizome, often found under the ground.

Parts of a running bamboo

The running bamboos have noticeably long-running rhizomes with pointy tips, also called the Leptomorph rhizomes and can grow over a considerable distance.

parts of a running bamboo labeled
Dia: Adapted from Bamboos by C.Recht & M.F. Wetterwald

Parts of a clump-forming bamboo

The rhizomes of the clumping bamboos are stout, thick and grow upwards from the parent plants, also called the Pachymorphs rhizomes.

Usually, the base culms are much thicker than the stem, compact as they grow upward, forming solid tight clumps.

parts of a clumping bamboo
Dia: Adapted from Bamboos by C.Recht & M.F. Wetterwald

Importance of knowing the parts of a bamboo

As mentioned earlier, there are many different groups of bamboo cultivars. The common bamboos we know in the UK are the clump-forming and running bamboos.

The running and clumping bamboos plants have different parts which are important when it comes to identifying them. This is vital especially when reading material or working with bamboo.

Finally, we hope that this information gives you some ideas about the parts of a bamboo plant.

Bamboo Grow and Care

We have a lot of useful materials as well as bamboo features that you may find useful. Check out the main menu, or related articles below for more information.

  1. Working with Bamboo – Digging Tools
  2. Separating Bamboo Tips: How to split bamboo plants?
  3. Bamboo Care: How to take care of bamboo plants?
  4. How to Grow Bamboo in Pot and Container Planters
  5. Bamboo Privacy Screen for Balcony, Deck, Patio or Porch

If you are looking for info on a specific bamboo, why not leave a comment below? We may be able to help. Or alternatively, we will refer to the right place where you can get the right help.

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3 thoughts on “Parts of a Bamboo Plant – Clumping vs Running”

  1. I grow both running bamboo and clump-forming bamboo, they are easy to identify when you look closely at the base of the plants. Btw, thanks for identifying the parts here.

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