Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Lawiswis ng Katutubong Kawayan - Our Native Bamboos

Bamboo has a certain charm as a house material and as garden plant. There is that oriental feel to bamboo and any Asian landcsape should not go without any of it. Which is probably the reason why I chose not to leave out bamboo species in my quest for native landscape trees and shrubs.

The first thing I turn to were the familiar bamboo species which are members of the genus Bambusa. Common fare are Bambusa blumeana (kawayang tinik) and Bambusa vulgaris (common kawayan) which surprisingly I was told are not native. Then what would be our native species?

Ms Cristina Roxas of DENR who co-authored Bamboo Propagation and Management said that we only have a handful of large bamboos we could call our own. She first gave me a list that only included what they call bayog, anos and buho. I asked if where I could find and document the said species. She gave me a good location, Carolina Bamboo Garden, where I could find all three in a good environment. I checked out the garden and found 2 more native species in their list, laak and puser (which Ms Roxas confirmed also native).

I thought all bamboos would look the same, but seeing the juxtaposition of the species in a bambusetum like Carolina garden made me appreciate even the minor difference each species had from each other. Our native bamboos are the ff:

Bayog with short nodes
Bayog or unnamed Bambusa species was first included in the Dendrocalamus genus as Dendrocalamus merrillianus. But it was proven more related to our kawayang tinik than the giant bamboos. The bayog is used more for structural purposes because its culms are denser having a smaller void or hollow area in its core.

Another common native is the buho or Schizostachyum lumampao. The buho is a very useful species for sawali and handicrafts like baskets.

Similar to buho is another Schizostachyum species, S. lima or anos. Anos is said to have more lengthy nodes than buho. The culm appears more hollow with thinner wall fiber. The anos is also used for sawali and bamboo musical intstruments.

Another unknown Bambusa of Philippine origin but lesser known than bayog is laak. Carolina Bamboo Garden lists this species as good for erosion control.

Last on this list (but probably not the last native bamboo) is Cyrtochloa puser or simply puser. A loosely clumping species ideal for fence (as bamboo material or plant) because of its upright culm growth. I find puser the most attractive of the Philippine bamboos, but then again this is just based on my own observation.

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