Bamboo Taxonomy



Bamboo is a type of grass that belongs to the family Poaceae. It is one of the fastest-growing plants in the world and can grow up to 91 cm in just one day. Bamboo is native to many regions worldwide, including East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and parts of the Americas, Africa, and Australia.

Bamboo has long been valued for its numerous uses, including as a source of food, medicine, construction material, and textiles. It is also a popular ornamental plant in gardens and parks. The taxonomy of bamboo is important for understanding the diversity of this plant species, as well as for conservation and horticultural purposes.

By studying the taxonomy of bamboo, we can better understand the different species and their relationships to each other. This knowledge can inform efforts to conserve endangered species, develop new cultivars for agriculture and horticulture, and understand the evolutionary history of this important plant group.

What is Bamboo Taxonomy?

Taxonomy is the scientific practice of identifying, describing, classifying, and naming organisms. It involves categorizing living things into hierarchical groups based on their physical and genetic characteristics.

The hierarchical system of classification used in taxonomy consists of several levels, with each level indicating a progressively smaller and more specific group. The levels, in order from largest to smallest, are: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species.

Bamboo taxonomy relies on a range of characteristics to identify and classify different bamboo species. These characteristics can include physical features such as leaf shape, culm (stem) shape and size, and flowering structure. Additionally, genetic characteristics such as DNA sequencing can be used to determine species relationships and confirm species identification.

Some key features used to identify and classify bamboo include:

  • Culm size, shape, and color
  • Leaf size, shape, and arrangement on the stem
  • Flowering structure (whether a species flowers, and if so, how)
  • Geographic range and habitat
  • Molecular markers in DNA

By using these characteristics, taxonomists can determine which species of bamboo belong to which genus, which genera belong to which family, and so on. This information can be used to build a classification system for bamboo that reflects the evolutionary relationships between different species.

A Brief History of Bamboo Taxonomy

The classification of bamboo began in ancient times, with early civilizations such as the Chinese, Japanese, and Indian cultures developing their own systems for identifying and classifying bamboo species. However, it was not until the modern era that a standardized classification system was developed.

Modern developments in bamboo taxonomy can be traced back to the early 19th century, when European naturalists began to explore the flora of Asia. Several important figures in the history of bamboo taxonomy include German botanist Carl von Martius, who published the first comprehensive study of bamboo in 1824, and Scottish botanist David Don, who described many new species of bamboo in the early 19th century.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, bamboo taxonomy continued to develop with the work of Japanese botanists such as Nakai Chikusaburo and Sasaki Shunsuke. They developed a system of classification based on the structure of the flowering organs, which is still used today.

Several key contributors to the field of bamboo taxonomy include:

  • Carl von Martius, who published the first comprehensive study of bamboo in 1824
  • David Don, who described many new species of bamboo in the early 19th century
  • Nakai Chikusaburo, who developed a system of classification based on the structure of the flowering organs
  • Sasaki Shunsuke, who expanded on Nakai's work and described many new species of bamboo in the early 20th century.

Today, bamboo taxonomy continues to develop with ongoing research and the discovery of new species. This work is important for understanding the diversity of bamboo species, as well as for conservation efforts and horticultural applications.


IV. Bamboo taxonomy today

Today, the classification of bamboo is based on the system developed by Nakai Chikusaburo and Sasaki Shunsuke in the early 20th century. This system is based on the structure of the flowering organs, and divides bamboo into two main groups: the temperate woody bamboos (subfamily Arundinoideae) and the tropical woody bamboos (subfamily Bambusoideae).

The subfamily Bambusoideae is further divided into several tribes, including the bamboo tribe (Bambuseae), which includes many economically important bamboo species.

Recent updates and changes in bamboo taxonomy include the discovery of new species, as well as changes to the classification system based on new genetic and morphological data. For example, recent studies have suggested that the temperate woody bamboos should be split into two subfamilies, with the bamboo tribe (Bambuseae) being reclassified as a distinct family.

Ongoing research in bamboo taxonomy is focused on improving our understanding of the diversity and evolutionary history of bamboo species, as well as identifying new species and clarifying the relationships between different groups of bamboo.

One area of research that is particularly important is the use of genetic sequencing to better understand the relationships between different bamboo species. This information can be used to improve our classification system and inform conservation efforts.

Overall, the study of bamboo taxonomy remains a dynamic and important field, with ongoing research contributing to our understanding of this diverse and economically important plant group.


V. Importance of bamboo taxonomy

Bamboo taxonomy is important for conservation efforts because it helps us to understand the diversity of bamboo species and their ecological roles. By identifying and classifying different species of bamboo, we can develop targeted conservation strategies for endangered or threatened species. Furthermore, understanding the relationships between different bamboo species can help us to identify areas of high biodiversity and prioritize conservation efforts.

Bamboo is an important plant group for agriculture and horticulture. Many species of bamboo are cultivated for their edible shoots, which are a nutritious food source. Other species are grown for their strong and durable culms, which are used for construction, furniture, and paper products. Additionally, bamboo is a popular ornamental plant, used in landscaping and garden design.

By understanding the taxonomy of bamboo, we can identify species that are well-suited for specific agricultural or horticultural applications. For example, certain species may be more resistant to pests or better adapted to different growing conditions.

Bamboo has a long history of cultural and economic significance. In many parts of the world, bamboo is used for traditional crafts and arts, such as basket weaving, paper-making, and musical instruments. Additionally, bamboo is an important source of income for many communities, particularly in rural areas where other forms of employment may be limited.

Understanding the taxonomy of bamboo is important for preserving these cultural and economic traditions. By identifying and conserving different species of bamboo, we can ensure that these important cultural practices are passed down to future generations.

Overall, the study of bamboo taxonomy is important for a wide range of applications, including conservation, agriculture, horticulture, and cultural preservation. By continuing to research and develop our understanding of bamboo taxonomy, we can ensure that this important plant group is conserved and utilized in a sustainable and responsible manner.


Taxonomy of Bamboo

  • KINGDOM: Plantae
  • PHYLUM (DIVISION): Magnoliophyta
  • CLASS: Liliopsida
  • SUBCLASS: Commelinidae
  • ORDER: Cyperales
  • FAMILY: Gramineae (Poaceae)
  • SUBFAMILY: Bambusoideae
  • TRIBE: Bambuseae
  • SUBTRIBE: bambusinae

Bamboo Genera List

Bamboo is a versatile and fast-growing plant belonging to the Poaceae family and the Bambusoideae subfamily. There are approximately ~1,450 species of bamboo divided into ~70 genera.

While it is not possible to list every single genus of bamboo, as new genera and species are constantly being discovered and classified, here is a more comprehensive list of bamboo genera. Keep in mind that this list may not be exhaustive, and classifications can change over time.

  • Acidosasa
  • Actinocladum
  • Alvimia
  • Ampelocalamus
  • Arthrostylidium
  • Arundinaria
  • Athroostachys
  • Aulonemia
  • Bambusa
  • Bonia
  • Borinda
  • Brachystachyum
  • Cephalostachyum
  • Chimonobambusa
  • Chimonocalamus
  • Chusquea
  • Clavinodum
  • Cyrtochloa
  • Dendrocalamus
  • Diandrolyra
  • Didymogonyx
  • Dinochloa
  • Drepanostachyum
  • Elytrostachys
  • Eremitis
  • Fargesia
  • Ferrocalamus
  • Filgueirasia
  • Gaoligongshania
  • Gigantochloa
  • Glaziophyton
  • Guadua
  • Hibanobambusa
  • Himalayacalamus
  • Holttumochloa
  • Indocalamus
  • Indosasa
  • Kinabaluchloa
  • Kurzodoxa
  • Maclurolyra
  • Melocalamus
  • Merostachys
  • Monocladus
  • Myriocladus
  • Neohouzeaua
  • Ochlandra
  • Olmeca
  • Olyra
  • Oreocalamus
  • Otatea
  • Oxytenanthera
  • Parabambusa
  • Pariana
  • Perrierbambus
  • Phacelocarpus
  • Pharus
  • Phuphanochloa
  • Phyllostachys
  • Pseudosasa
  • Pseudoxytenanthera
  • Racemobambos
  • Raddia
  • Rhipidocladum
  • Rhytidocladum
  • Ruhooglandia
  • Sasa
  • Sasamorpha
  • Sasaella
  • Schizostachyum
  • Semiarundinaria
  • Shibataea
  • Sinobambusa
  • Soejatmia
  • Sucrea
  • Swallenochloa
  • Temburongia
  • Teinostachyum
  • Thamnocalamus
  • Thyrsostachys
  • Valiha
  • Vietnamosasa
  • Yersinochloa
  • Yushania

Below is a list of some of the most common and important bamboo genera and a few species within each genus. This list is not exhaustive, but it provides an overview of the diversity of bamboo.



Arundinaria is a genus of bamboo often referred to as "cane", and is the only bamboo native to North America.

  • Arundinaria alabamensis 
  • Arundinaria appalachiana
  • Arundinaria gigantea (Walt.) Muhl.
  • Arundinaria tecta Muhl. 


Bambusa is a diverse genus of clumping bamboos native to tropical and subtropical regions, especially Asia.

  • Bambusa aculeata
  • Bambusa albolineata
  • Bambusa amplexicaulis
  • Bambusa arnhemica
  • Bambusa balcooa
  • Bambusa bambos
  • Bambusa beecheyana
  • Bambusa blumeana
  • Bambusa bomiensis
  • Bambusa brachystachya
  • Bambusa burmanica
  • Bambusa chungii
  • Bambusa cornigera
  • Bambusa dissimulator
  • Bambusa dolichomerithalla
  • Bambusa emeiensis
  • Bambusa eutuldoides
  • Bambusa flexuosa
  • Bambusa gibba
  • Bambusa glaucescens
  • Bambusa heterostachya
  • Bambusa hindsii
  • Bambusa hypoleuca
  • Bambusa indochinensis
  • Bambusa kingiana
  • Bambusa lapidea
  • Bambusa lathyrocarpa
  • Bambusa malingensis
  • Bambusa manipureana
  • Bambusa multiplex
  • Bambusa nana
  • Bambusa nutans
  • Bambusa oldhamii
  • Bambusa pallida
  • Bambusa pervariabilis
  • Bambusa polymorpha
  • Bambusa pottsii
  • Bambusa procera
  • Bambusa prostrata
  • Bambusa pygmaea
  • Bambusa rigida
  • Bambusa scabrida
  • Bambusa sinospinosa
  • Bambusa subtruncata
  • Bambusa textilis
  • Bambusa tulda
  • Bambusa ventricosa
  • Bambusa vulgaris
  • Bambusa wamin
  • Bambusa yunnanensis


  • Chusquea culeou
  • Chusquea quila
  • Chusquea scandens
  • Chusquea tessellata


Dendrocalamus is a genus of tropical clumping bamboos native to Southeast Asia.

  • Dendrocalamus asper
  • Dendrocalamus barbatus
  • Dendrocalamus brandisii
  • Dendrocalamus calostachyus
  • Dendrocalamus cinctus
  • Dendrocalamus copelandii
  • Dendrocalamus elegans
  • Dendrocalamus fangianus
  • Dendrocalamus giganteus
  • Dendrocalamus glaucifolius
  • Dendrocalamus hamiltonii
  • Dendrocalamus harmandii
  • Dendrocalamus latiflorus
  • Dendrocalamus longispathus
  • Dendrocalamus membranaceus
  • Dendrocalamus minor
  • Dendrocalamus minor var. amoenus
  • Dendrocalamus patellaris
  • Dendrocalamus pendulus
  • Dendrocalamus poilanei
  • Dendrocalamus sikkimensis
  • Dendrocalamus sinicus
  • Dendrocalamus spathaceus
  • Dendrocalamus stocksei
  • Dendrocalamus strictus
  • Dendrocalamus tibeticus
  • Dendrocalamus yunnanicus
  • Dendrocalamus ziroensis


  • Fargesia denudata
  • Fargesia dracocephala
  • Fargesia murielae
  • Fargesia nitida
  • Fargesia robusta


Gigantochloa is a genus of tropical clumping bamboos native to Southeast Asia, particularly Indonesia and Malaysia.

  • Gigantochloa albociliata
  • Gigantochloa apus
  • Gigantochloa atroviolacea
  • Gigantochloa balui
  • Gigantochloa beccarii
  • Gigantochloa bicolor
  • Gigantochloa blancoi
  • Gigantochloa burmanica
  • Gigantochloa cantonensis
  • Gigantochloa curvata
  • Gigantochloa hasskarliana
  • Gigantochloa hirta
  • Gigantochloa kuring
  • Gigantochloa latifolia
  • Gigantochloa levis
  • Gigantochloa longispiculata
  • Gigantochloa macrostachya
  • Gigantochloa manggong
  • Gigantochloa marginata
  • Gigantochloa maxima
  • Gigantochloa molliuscula
  • Gigantochloa nigrociliata
  • Gigantochloa pergracilis
  • Gigantochloa poilanei
  • Gigantochloa pseudarundinacea
  • Gigantochloa ridleyi
  • Gigantochloa robusta
  • Gigantochloa scortechinii
  • Gigantochloa spathacea
  • Gigantochloa sumatrana
  • Gigantochloa tenuispiculata
  • Gigantochloa verticillata
  • Gigantochloa waminii
  • Gigantochloa whiteheadii


  • Guadua angustifolia
  • Guadua amplexifolia
  • Guadua chacoensis
  • Guadua paniculata


  • Phyllostachys aurea (Golden Bamboo)
  • Phyllostachys bambusoides
  • Phyllostachys edulis (Moso Bamboo)
  • Phyllostachys nigra (Black Bamboo)
  • Phyllostachys vivax


  • Pseudosasa amabilis
  • Pseudosasa japonica (Arrow Bamboo)
  • Pseudosasa owatarii


  • Sasa borealis
  • Sasa kurilensis
  • Sasa palmata
  • Sasa veitchii


  • Schizostachyum brachycladum
  • Schizostachyum lumampao
  • Schizostachyum zollingeri


  • Thamnocalamus aristatus
  • Thamnocalamus crassinodus
  • Thamnocalamus spathiflorus
  • Thamnocalamus tessellatus


Bamboo taxonomy is a fascinating field that is essential for understanding the diversity of bamboo species and their ecological, cultural, and economic significance. By continuing to research and develop our understanding of bamboo taxonomy, we can ensure that this important plant group is conserved and utilized sustainably.


1) American Bamboo Society: What is Bamboo?
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