Himalayas; and in the Andes of South America they reach the snow-line.
The fruit in Bambusa, Arundinaria and other genera resembles the grain generally characteristic of grasses, but in Dendrocalamus and others it is a nut, while rarely, as in Melocanna, it is fleshy and suggests an apple in size and appearance. The uses to which all the parts and products of the bamboo are applied in Oriental countries are almost endless. The soft and succulent shoots, when just beginning to spring, are cut off and served up at table like asparagus. Like that vegetable, also, they are earthed over to keep them longer fit for consumption; and they afford a continuous supply during the whole year, though it is more abundant in autumn. They are also salted and eaten with rice, prepared in the form of pickles or candied and preserved in sugar. As the plant grows older, a species of fluid is secreted in the hollow joints, in which a concrete substance once highly valued in the East for its medicinal qualities, called tabaxir or tabascheer, is gradually developed. This substance, which has been found to be a purely siliceous concretion, is possessed of peculiar optical properties. As a medicinal agent the bamboo is entirely inert, and it has never been received into the European materia medica.
|Fig. 2.—Bamboo (Bambusa vulgaris),|
very much reduced. Grows 20 to 50 ft high.
The grains of the bamboo are available for food, and the Chinese have a proverb that it produces seed more abundantly in years when the rice crop fails, which means, probably, that in times of dearth the natives look more after such a source of food. The Hindus eat it mixed with honey as a delicacy, equal quantities being put into a hollow joint, coated externally with clay, and thus roasted over a fire. The fleshly fruit of Melocanna is baked and eaten. The plant is a native of India, but is sometimes cultivated as in Mauritius. It is, however, the stem of the bamboo which is applied to the greatest variety of uses. Joints of sufficient size form water buckets; smaller ones are used as bottles, and among the Dyaks of Borneo they are employed as cooking vessels. Bamboo is extensively used as a timber wood, and houses are frequently made entirely out of the products of the plant; complete sections of the stem form posts or columns; split up, it serves for floors or rafters; and, interwoven in lattice-work, it is employed for the sides of rooms, admitting light and air. The roof is sometimes of bamboo solely, and when split, which is accomplished with the greatest ease, it can be formed into laths or planks. It is employed in shipping of all kinds; some of the strongest plants are selected for masts of boats of moderate size, and the masts of larger vessels are sometimes formed by the union of several bamboos built up and joined together.
The bamboo is employed in the construction of all kinds of agricultural and domestic implements and in the materials and implements required in fishery. Bows are made of it by the union of two pieces with many bands; and, the septa being bored out and the lengths joined together, it is employed, as we use leaden pipes, in transmitting water to reservoirs or gardens. From the light and slender stalks shafts for arrows are obtained; and in the south-west of Asia there is a certain species of equally slender growth, from which writing-pens or reeds are made. A joint forms a holder for papers or pens, and it was in a joint of bamboo that silk-worm eggs were carried from China to Constantinople during the reign of Justinian. The outer cuticle of Oriental species is so hard that it forms a sharp and durable cutting edge, and it is so siliceous that it can be used as a whetstone. This outer cuticle, cut into thin strips, is one of the most durable and beautiful materials for basket-making, and both in China and Japan it is largely so employed. Strips are also woven into cages, chairs, beds and other articles of furniture, Oriental wicker-work in bamboo being unequalled for beauty and neatness of workmanship. In China the interior portions of the stem are beaten into a pulp and used for the manufacture of the finer varieties of paper. Bamboos are imported to a considerable extent into Europe for the use of basket-makers, and for umbrella and walking-sticks. In short, the purposes to which the bamboo is applicable are almost endless, and well justify the opinion that "it is one of the most wonderful and most beautiful productions of the tropics, and one of Nature's most valuable gifts to uncivilized man" (A. R. Wallace, The Malay Archipelago).
A number of species of bamboo are hardy under cultivation in the British Isles. A useful and interesting account of these and their cultivation will be found in the Bamboo Garden, by A. B. Freeman-Mitford. They are mostly natives of China and Japan and belong to the genera Arundinaria, Bambusa and Phyllostachys; but include a few Himalayan species of Arundinaria. They may be propagated by seed (though owing to the rare occurrence of fruit, this method is seldom applicable), by division and by cuttings. They are described as hungry plants which well repay generous treatment, and will flourish in a rich, not too stiff loam, and for the first year or two should be well mulched. They should be sheltered from winds and well watered during the growing period. When being transplanted the roots must be disturbed as little as possible. The following may be mentioned; Arundinaria simoni, a fine plant which in the bamboo garden at Kew has reached 18 ft. in height, and not infrequently flowers and fruits in Britain; A. japonica, a tall and handsome plant generally grown in gardens under the name Bambusa métaké; A. nitida, "by far the daintiest and most attractive of all its genus, and remarkably hardy"; Bambusa palmata, with leaves a foot or more long and three inches broad; B. tesselata; B. quadrangularis, remarkable for its square stems; Phyllostachys mitis, growing to 60 ft. high in its native home, China and Japan; and P. nigra, so called from the black stem, a handsome species.
BAMBURGH, or Bamborough, a village in the Berwick-upon-Tweed parliamentary division of Northumberland, England, on the sea-coast, 2½ m. E. of Belford station on the North Eastern railway, and 54 m. N. of Newcastle. It was a royal borough previous to the Norman Conquest and returned two members to parliament in the reign of Edward I. Its ancient castle occupies a magnificent position close to the sea on an almost perpendicular rock, 150 ft. in height, accessible only on the south-east side.
The first erection is ascribed by the Saxon chronicles to King Ida of Northumberland. The castle buildings are of various dates from the Norman period and are of great strength and dignity. They include a massive keep and the remains of an apsidal chapel dedicated to St Peter. In the village, the church is dedicated to St Aidan, who was bishop of Lindisfarne or Holy Island, which lies off the coast to the north, about 634. It is a fine cruciform building, mainly of Early English date, with a crypt beneath the chancel. In the churchyard is a monument to Grace Darling (1815-1842), the brave rescuer of some of the crew of the ship "Forfarshire" in 1838. The Longstone Lighthouse, where her father was keeper, stands on an outer rock of the Farne Islands, which stretch north-eastward for 6 m. from the coast at Bamburgh.
The town of Bamburgh (Bebbanburgh) sprang up round the ancient castle. During the struggle for the crown between William Rufus and Robert of Normandy, Bamburgh was besieged by William, who, finding the defence too strong, erected and garrisoned a new castle before Bamburgh called