Be A Bamboo Shoot

20131110-121057.jpgBamboo, a member of the perennial evergreen plant (grass) family Poaceae, not only vibrates on high green, they are the tallest growing grass, and one of the fastest growing plant on earth–according to the American Bamboo Society.  Some bamboo can grow more than 40 inches in 24 hours, and can grow up to 90 feet tall.  Sorry, but that lucky bamboo plant,  Dracaena braunii, you find all around in stores, is not a real bamboo.  It’s a shrub!  There are many different types of bamboo plants, and are typically known for having these qualities:

  • Easily grows without fertilizers, and grow vigorously, spreading by its mass underground part of stem called rhizome, usually confused with the root.
  • Has versatile uses (especially in Asia, and gaining momentum in the West as a sustainable source): building materials for houses, furniture, weapons (martial arts), fabric for clothing, musical instruments, paper; uses for medicine, and food (good source of Potassium)
  • Grows in versatile climates (from the climates of the hot Sub-Sahara, the Americas, and Europe, to the cold Himalayas)
  • Grows straight upwards until it matures and then branches out (Usually grow upright in spring and branches out summer/fall)
  • Can pop up anywhere if left unchecked, into and through solid materials, and can easily colonize the area (can be a nuisance and difficult to manage for those who planted bamboo on their lawn)
  • Bends in bad weather, and rare to break unless uprooted
  • LOW MAINTENANCE!  Requires little more than soil (food), water, and sunlight
  • Their culms (stems or shoots) are strong, and are said to have greater density than some oak, and some say it’s strength is almost parallel to that of steel
  • Bamboo is highly efficient in converting Carbon Dioxide (CO2) into Oxygen (O2)
  • Chinese associate bamboo with fortitude, good fortune, resistance, wisdom, strength, and good health
  • Bamboo is also associated with uprightness, tenacity, a hollow or expansive heart, no prejudice or arrogance, integrity, elegance, unity, simplicity, and strong hedge (protection)

There are many kinds of bamboos, but they are typically classed as Clumper or Runners.  Simply put, a clumping bamboo is one whose mass of root structure is non-invasive and stays close together.  These are contained well and do not grow wild under normal circumstances.  They prefer cool temperature.  They love the cool Pacific North-West and places like the Himalaya.  The Runners prefer warmer climates and are the ones whose rhizones (bulbs of its roots structure) are pervasive, and like to spread deep and wide. I kinda like the sound of this one, but it’s a troublesome one too (these are the ones that can spread like wildfire and can be difficult to control/kill if placed on the lawn).

OYE!  I can’t help but to think of the runner bamboo as a warrior plant.  My friend Annie told me once, “Be a bamboo.”  She went on to list the good attributes of the bamboo plant she’d read about one day (some listed above).  As Annie enumerated them, I was contemplating how we could all adopt a few of these qualities. The challenges of nursing can sometimes be very difficult, and in this health profession, we’ve got a high rate of burnout (to be discussed some other time).  But many times we are like a bamboo tree, especially since we’ve been able to thrive in many changing (and sometimes hostile) hospital environments (constantly bending, flexing, dodging bullets, having bare minimum break for food/bathroom, sometimes dealing with hostile sick clients, managers, and supervisors, etc) and we still stay (yes, many of us are gluts for this type of lifestyle).  To my friend Meloney who recently picked up running, be like your St Lucian national plant.  Keep the resolve and stay strong like a runner bamboo tree.