There is no doubt that Bamboo trees do flower. However, there are over 1500 bamboo species, and they all have different flowering intervals and habits. Currently, there is no scientific evidence on why and when bamboo flowering occurs since the flowering intervals can be several decades apart. A majority of the herbaceous bamboos do flower every year while the woody ones have an irregular flowering habit. Scientists state that many bamboos flower once in every 20-120 years and many die after that. Bamboos have different types of flowering habits which depend on the species you choose to grow on your farm. The flowering types include;
• Continuous flowering
• Sporadic flowering
• Gregarious Flowering
Let’s now discuss each type and understand what they mean.
This the annual flowering habit that is common in the herbaceous bamboos and sometimes it happens to woody bamboos. However, some bamboo species flower every year with no effect on the plant but the seeds produced are rarely viable. The continuous flowering occurs in various plants over a different period with intervals not exceeding one or two months. Scientists also state that some few bamboo species have a year-round flowering habit and that has no effect on the vegetative behavior such as causing delays.
This type of flowering occurs on the individual plant steps. There is no documented pattern in the bamboos with this flowering habit. The habit seems to be induced by different factors such as the change in climate, for instance, cold or drought and not genetics. Majority of the bamboo species like Guadua Angustifolia can flourish both sporadically and gregariously. On the other hand, when sporadic flowering happens on bamboos, the plant can rarely die, but the seeds will not be viable. That means the seeds will not be useful even if you plant them in a favorable environment.
A majority of woody bamboo species take this type of flowering where all plants of a specific species flower at the same period regardless of climate or geographical locations but they die a few years after flowering. The Gregarious flowering cycle differs from one species to another, but generally, the intervals can take a while like 20-12 years. This means that, when a specific bamboo species start flowering gregariously, all similar species also do so globally despite the conditions they are in unless the entire forest dies. Some bamboo species only the stems die, while the rhizomes get activated and start regenerating the species. Conversely, this is a rare occurrence and is mostly referred to as an exception but not a rule.
Gregarious flowering occurs in different stages due to the fact that mature stems start by producing seeds. When the seeds ripen, they fall off and the bamboo losses its leaves while the culms start to dry from top to bottom till it dies. All bamboo forests have culms that are in a different developmental stage. The process can take up to 7 years or less depending on the bamboo species. In summary, bamboo do flower, but the flowering habit determines when and how they will produce flowers. Some species take long before flowering, which makes many people conclude that bamboos don’t flower.