Bamboo is a native of the hottest regions of Asia. It is likewise to be found in America, but not in that abundance with which it flourishes in the old world. It is never brought into this country in sufficient supply, though it is admirably adapted for many purposes. In the countries of its production, it is one of the most universally useful plants, and of the most rapid growth, rising from fifty to eighty feet the first year, and the second, perfecting its timber in hardness and elasticity. It grows in stools which are cut every two years. Its young shoots and roots make an Indian pickle; its light, graceful, knotted stalk, is used in many articles of furniture for the rich; and its timber forms almost entire houses for the lower orders. The quantity of timber furnished by an acre of bamboo is immense. Bridges, boats, masts, rigging, agriculture, and other implements and machinery; carts, baskets, troughs, pipes for conveying water, pumps, fences for gardens and fields; tables, chairs, bedsteads, bedding, barrows, fences, sacking, cordage, oakum, candle-wicks, whips, etc. are made of it. Macerated in water it forms paper; the leaves are generally put round the tea sent to Europe; the thick inspissated juice is a favourite medicine.
It is said to be indestructible by fire, to resist acids, and, by fusion with alkali, to form a transparent glass. In Malabar, the bamboos are trained over iron arches, and when they have assumed the curve of the mould, are used for roofs to palanquins, and sell at five or six hundred rupees a set.