What One Tree is Worth - The Bamboo
It will help us to appreciate the value and uses of trees if we consider the uses to which a single species provides.
The Chinese give us the following account of the Bamboo.
The bamboo plant is cultivated almost everywhere; it is remarkable for its shade and beauty. There are about sixty varieties, different in size according to its genus; ranging from that of a switch to a big pole measuring from four to five inches in diameter. It is reared from shoots and suckers, and, after the root once clings to the ground, it thrives and spreads without further care or labor. Of these sixty varieties, each thrives best in a certain locality, and throughout the whole empire of China the bamboo groves not only embellish the gardens of the poor, but the vast parks of the princes and wealthy.
The use to which this stately grass is put is truly wonderful:
- The tender shoots are cultivated for food like the asparagus.
- The roots are carved into fantastic images of men, birds, and monkeys.
- The tapering culms are used for all purposes that poles can be applied to, in carrying, supporting, propelling, and measuring; by the porter, the carpenter, and the boatman; for the joists of houses and the ribs of sails; the shafts of spears and the wattles of hurdles, the tubes of aqueducts and the handles and ribs of umbrellas and fans.
- The leaves are sewed upon cords to make rain-cloaks for farmers and boatmen, for sails to boats as well as junks, swept into heaps to form manure, and matted into thatches to cover houses.
- The bamboo wood is cut into splints and slivers of various sizes to make into baskets and trays of every form and fancy, twisted into cables, plaited into awnings, and woven into mats for the bed and floor, for the sceneries of the theatre, for the roofs of boats, and the casing of goods.
- The shavings are picked into oakum to be stuffed into mattresses.
- The bamboo furnishes the bed for sleeping and the couch for reclining and the chair for sitting.
- The bamboo furnishes the chop-sticks for eating, the pipe for smoking, the flute for entertaining; a curtain to hang before the door, and a broom to sweep around it.
- The ferrule to govern the scholar, the book he studies and the paper he writes upon, all originated from this wonderful grass.
- The tapering barrels of the organ and the dreadful instrument of the lictor - one to strike harmony, and the other to strike dread.
- The bamboo is used for the rule to measure lengths, the cup to gauge quantities, and the bucket to draw water; the bellows to blow the fire and the box to retain the match; the bird-cage and crab-net, the fish-pole, and the water-wheel and eaveduct, wheelbarrow, and hand-cart, and a host of other things, are the utilities to which this magnificent grass is converted."