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Monday, March 24, 2008

Crouching tiger, running bamboo

Bamboo is taking over suburbia. This is not a good thing, according to a wonderful Matthew Rose piece in today's Wall Street Journal.

Running bamboo, whose 8-inch-thick stalks can grow 80 feet high, is particularly invasive, with steel-cable-like roots that can tunnel dozens of feet away to establish clusters of new shoots. It's also hard to kill; Rose writes that bamboo can even survive a nuclear blast:

Bamboo growers claim the plant was the first to re-emerge after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. William Aley, an import specialist at the Agriculture Department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, says he can't say whether the story is true, but confirms that "depending on how deep the heat flash was at a bomb blast, the shoots are formidable enough to survive having the above-surface portions destroyed."
Rose says that the 2003 hit movie, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, helped popularize the plant, which, in some bamboo-infested areas of the U.S., is sparking neighbor-on-neighbor lawsuits. Personally, we love the stuff. Then again, we keep it contained in giant pots on our deck.

[Photo credit of running bamboo:]