Sunday, October 16, 2016



I never knew that bamboo came in two genders, male and female.

At least in Chamorro.

There are countless types of bamboo all over the world, but the Marianas only has one predominant variety, the Babusa vulgaris or "common bamboo," prevalent all over the world.

The thorny bamboo, as seen above, is called the piao låhe in Chamorro, or "male bamboo," on account of the protruding stems. They can also be called piao tituka, or "thorn bamboo."

The smooth bamboo, lacking prickly stems, is called piao palao'an, or "female bamboo, as seen in the picture below :


Both varieties, male and female, are useful and were used by our people, but the male bamboo rises taller (as high as 50 feet) and is harder. The male variety, therefore, was prized for projects needing stronger and more durable material.


Bamboo can be used in a hundred or more ways.

Beams, frames, floors, walls, partitions, ceilings, doors and windows. Bridges, ladders, fences, furniture, musical instruments, sports equipment, tool handles, fishing poles. Cups and drinking troughs. Our elders collected sap from coconut trees to make tuba into bamboo tubes.

Bamboo thrives in moist areas, such as along river banks. They can grow as rapidly as 3 inches a day, and fresh cut bamboo can take root just by being stuck in the ground.

The one negative thing about bamboo, but it is significant, is that the fallen dead leaves can form a perfect blanket for snakes to nest under. When you reach a grove of bamboo, be very careful!

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