One of the foremost biologists in bamboo research, Dr. Chris Stapleton, has recently discovered two new species of bamboo in the mountains of Africa. The mountains of the Cameroon, across from Ethiopia have been housing a rare and little understood genera of bamboo for a long time now. Stapleton and other scientists will be looking into what consequence this find has on the rest of the world’s understanding of bamboo.
Almost all of the world’s bamboo is grown in Asia. But these African bamboos are hidden away, providing food for gorillas much like Asian bamboos provide food for pandas. It has been supposed that the African and Asian bamboos are related, but their ranges are separated by a few thousand miles. Since the spread of bamboo by seed is an extremely rare occurrence, it has been supposed that these African mountain bamboos could be very old, possibly related to the earliest species of temperate bamboos that would have spread to Asia on shifting tectonic plates.
Dr. Stapleton found that there were enough differences in these bamboos, not to mention their very apparent location difference, which would qualify for new genera. These two are called Bergbambos and Oldeania, which is their local designation in the Afrikaans and Massai languages. Dr. Stapleton further noted: “The features and DNA of the African bamboos are certainly different to those of East Asia, but it is still not clear whether they are really different enough to represent ancestors of all the Asian bamboos.”
Bamboo is beginning to be a more sought after crop in domestic cultivation. It has long been the pride of east Asian countries and almost exclusively grown there. Currently, almost all bamboo imports to the United States come from China. More recently, though, companies have started to harvest bamboo in other countries around the world. This is the beginning to providing sustainable and renewable bamboo for use across the globe.