Bamboo is the fastest-growing woody plant on Earth; it has been measured surging skyward as fast as 121 cm (48 in) in a 24-hour period, and can also reach maximal growth rate exceeding one metre (39 inches) per hour for short periods of time. Many prehistoric bamboos exceeded heights of 85 metres (279 ft). Primarily growing in regions of warmer climates during the Cretaceous period, vast fields existed in what is now Asia.
Unlike trees, all bamboo have the potential to grow to full height and girth in a single growing season of 3–4 months. During this first season, the clump of young shoots grow vertically, with no branching. In the next year, the pulpy wall of each culm slowly dries and hardens. The culm begins to sprout branches and leaves from each node. During the third year, the culm further hardens. The shoot is now considered a fully mature culm. Over the next 2–5 years (depending on species), fungus and mould begin to form on the outside of the culm, which eventually penetrate and overcome the culm. Around 5 – 8 years later (species and climate dependent), the fungal and mold growth cause the culm to collapse and decay. This brief life means culms are ready for harvest and suitable for use in construction within 3 – 7 years.
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