Living in Hawaii for 9 years, I’ve learned a lot about bamboo crops grown around the Hawaiian Islands. Bamboo is grown for decoration, as a ‘green screen’ for privacy and, more recently, as a sustainable building material. Found all over East Asia, Bamboo has a long history. As more builders and home owners look for creative uses of bamboo, the plant is enjoying a great ride. Could it be your ticket to Hawaii?
Black, clumping bamboo; a decorative favorite!
Bamboo as a Building Material
Bamboos are part of the grass family and grow in straight columns to tree heights. They are some of the fastest-growing plants in the world, due to a unique rhizome-dependent system. A rhizome is a modified subterranean stem of a plant that is usually found underground, often sending out roots and shoots from its nodes. The new shoots come out of the ground in the same diameter as the mature stem.
Can you spot all of the bamboo in this photo? Floors, decorative ceiling trim, door trim, furniture, wall sconce, and even the lamp!
An individual bamboo stem will never grow wider as it ages, but rather, grows stronger in the first 2-7 years, making that the prime time to harvest structural bamboo. As the clump of one rizhome matures, subsequent shoots will be thicker and taller until the optimum diameter and height for that particular species is reached. These qualities make bamboo a very predictable crop.
Bamboo as Decorative Features
I love all the uses this creative builder used for bamboo, which is grown on the property: door trim and an elegant entry light
Bamboo in Furniture
With strength greater than steel in some varieties of bamboo, the uses are endless, like these legs of a solid wood table
Live the Bamboo Lifestyle
As bamboo is increasingly available for building, and innovative techniques make it easier to cure, bamboo will continue to grow as a sustainable resource. There is no better place on Earth than Hawaii for cultivating this crop.
Some trend-setting land owners have already begun the process of planting bamboo in Puna on the Big Island of Hawaii; for instance, this 7 acre estate in Pohoiki with over 26 species of bamboo planted and thriving. Of those, 18 are timber varieties.
Imagine the possibilities for owning your own sustainable building resource! Could this be the ticket to your Hawaii Life?