About Bamboo

In the first series of my articles on this page, I will take this opportunity to write a bit about Bamboo. As village people, I know bamboo since my childhood. In a Javanese village context probably you also know about slumpring, lugut, egrang, and rebung (bamboo shoot). However, in this article we won’t discuss those properties of bamboo, on the other hand we will try to know bamboo more as an alternative material, especially bamboo as buildings material.

Talking about bamboo, according to Gernot Minke in his book entitled “Building with Bamboo, Design and Technology of a Sustainable Architecture” (second and revised edition), there are at least six groups of bamboo species commonly used as building materials. Those six families of Bamboo are:

  • Bambusa
  • Chusquea
  • Dendrocalamus
  • Gigantochloa
  • Guadua, and
  • Phyllostachys


bamboo as buildings material
Bambusa vulgaris

According to Minke, this group/genus of bamboo can still be distinguished into several more specific types:

  • Bambusa balcoa
  • Bambusa disimulator
  • Bambusa edilis
  • Bambusa polymorpha
  • Bambusa stenostachya
  • Bumbusa vulgaris
  • Bambusa bambos (L.) Voss
  • Bambusa nepalensis
  • Bambusa oldhami Munro (Green Bamboo)
  • Bambusa vulgaris, Schrader ex Wendland
  • Bambusa vulgaris, Schrader ex Wendland, var. striata

Characteristics and advantages of bamboos incorporated in Bambusa group includes: the height of bamboo trees vary from 6 meters to the highest of about 30 meters with a diameter of between 6 to 18 centimeters; habitat of its life mostly in Asia (China, India, Southeast Asia, East Asia) except Bumbusa vulgaris also found in America; some types are green and there is also a combination of gold / yellow color.


This type of bamboo can also be divided into several types of Chusquea bamboo more specifically, which are:

  • Chusquea culeou
  • Chusquea culeou Desvaux (“coligüe”, “colihue”, or also called “culeu” in Chile)
  • Chusquea quila Kunth

Some of the special features that can be encountered in bamboo in the Chusquea family are: tree height between 4 (four) to 6 (six) meters with a small bamboo stem diameter of about 4 (four) centimeters; this type of bamboo plant grows in the southern part of the earth and also found in South America and some parts of Central America; the stems are strong even though these bamboo tend to be small. With a small diameter size this type of bamboo rod is suitable to be a partitioning element in the interior of the building, as well as secondary skin (coating walls) on the exterior.


This bamboo family is divided into several types, namely:

  • Dendrocalamus balcoa (Bambusa balcoa)
  • Dendrocalamus giganteus (Giant bamboo)
  • Dendrocalamus asper
  • Dendrocalamus latiflorus

Well, according to Gernot Minke, the bamboo contained in this family has characteristics such as: large and sturdy bamboo stems with a height can reach more than 30 meters and diameter more than 30 centimeters with the thickness of the stem can reach 2.5 centimeters; the distance between its segments reaches 70 centimeters; mostly found in Central Asia and Southeast Asia. With this characteristic, this type of bamboo is suitable for building materials, especially for structural elements.


Gigantochola bamboo family is distinguished again into several species, namely:

  • Gigantochloa apus (Bamboo apus)
  • Gigantochloa atroviolacea (black bamboo)
  • Gigantochloa levis

Bamboo in this group has special features, among others: the height of the bamboo rod reaches about 15 meters with a diameter of 10-15 centimeters; and growing habitats are mostly located in Southeast Asia. In villages in Indonesia, this type of bamboo is usually used as a basic material of home furnishings from bamboo.


The Guadua bamboo family is a bamboo plant that typically grows only in the southern American continent, especially in Colombia and Ecuador. The name of Guadua itself is given by Karl Sigismund Kunth according to the locals name for this bamboo [1]. Bamboo in this group can be further divided into several types of bamboo that is more special namely:

  • Guadua angustifolia Kunth
  • Guadua aculeata
  • Guadua chacoensis
  • Guadua paniculata Munro
  • Guadua superba Huber

Some of the characteristics that can be found in this type of bamboo in the Guadua family are: the height of the bamboo stem can reach 15 to 30 meters with an average diameter of 9-12 centimeters but can also reach 21 centimeters; when viewed from the characteristic of this segment of bamboo it has several clusters of “onion” which have a rather long interruous distance with matching character to handle the tensile force, the “club” variant with short interracial distance suitable for handling compressive force, “castle “Which is not too strong to press / pull but is suitable for making boards / blinds / trellises, and” goitred “which has irregular spacing (probably suitable for decorative elements) [2]. Meanwhile, the growing habitat of bamboo is endemic in South America, as in Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, and Ecuador.


bamboo as buildings material
Phyllostachis bambusoides

Well, the last group of bamboo is found to grow more in sub-tropical regions such as China, Japan, America and even Europe. The types of bamboo included in the Phyllostachis family include:

  • Phyllostachis aurea
  • Phyllostachis bambusoides
  • Phyllostachis nigra, var. henonis
  • Phyllostachis pubescens
  • Phyllostachis vivax

Characteristics of bamboo in this group are: the height of the bamboo stems between 5 – 21 meters with the diameter of the stem can reach 17 centimeters; origin of China and Japan but many are also grown in America and parts of Europe.

Well, those are several groups and types of bamboo that we can use both for our building and for other supporting elements (interior and exterior) and also decorative elements. Interested to try to use bamboo in your house? Check whether the type of bamboo that is found in your place is the right bamboo. Wait for our next post on rumahdaribambu.com! 🙂


Some books related to bamboo in case you are interested:
“New Bamboo – Contemporary Japanese Masters”

“Craft and Art of Bamboo: 30 Elegant Projects to Make for Home and Garden”




[1] Minke, G. (2012). Building with bamboo. Basel: Birkhäuser.
[2] Photos taken from Wikipedia.

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