I curse the bamboo outside my bedroom window – a relentless creeping assault on the yard, destroyer of drainage tile and soil – reigning nemesis to a well ordered garden. A scourge defined by brazen fortress, taunting several feet below the surface. Eliciting howls of outrage as shovel handles splinter, and axes bounce of fibrous tendrils in defeat. Every year the same – well planned attacks in spring, fade to surrender by mid- summer. Twelve to fifteen foot renegades slap windows at the slightest breeze, powerless as it swallows lavender, daisies and day lily. Refusing to use poison as a final solution, I’ve played this game for 15 years. Bamboo knows who’s boss.
Today I learned an astounding fact, a little snippet responsible for seeing bamboo with new eyes. Bamboo kicks ass. It defies all reason – pulling off one of nature’s biggest head scratchers.Ponder this – bamboo has a life cycle of up to 120 years or more, spreading from new shoots deep at root level. Bamboo flower or “blossom” rarely, perhaps every 65-120 years. When a species “blossoms” , they flower, produce a “fruit” of sorts called bamboo rice, then die. Now for the punch line – species blossom at precisely the same time. It doesn’t follow a discernible pattern – any bamboo cut or propagated from the same “cohort” regardless of location in the world, blossoms at the same time. It can’t be explained, somehow they all simply blossom and die.
Weirder still, the blossom period lasts longer than the lifespan of rodents feeding on copious amounts of bamboo rice. In places like China and India, bamboo blossom produces a spike in rodents – one that can cause disease and famine in human population as rampaging rodents gobble stored crops.
Tomorrow I’ll wake to a battalion of bamboo warriors. Instead of cursing, I’ll pause to consider one of nature’s mysteries – then fingers will cross in hope that somewhere on this planet, my bamboo’s distant cousins are ready to blossom. Acutely aware of the trouble it may cause, my sincerest apologies for hardships resulting from selfish desire to rid myself of bamboo.