Scientific research has shown that the bambusoides, of the great family of grasses, has been the plant with the highest use in the history of our region. Thanks to archaeobotany, analysis of phytoliths, pollen analysis and the application of statistics, we now know that this plant is the one that appears most frequently in research, for this reason the Quitsato project has undertaken the research of this natural fiber, in order to innovate technologically in the construction, furniture making, as well as crafts and different proposals that help us to divulge the cultivation and conscious use of this vegetable.

The Bambusoids in Ecuador

The organic products of highest consumption among human beings, in their daily life are: rice, sugar, wheat and corn. These products are grasses. But there is a grasses that has built cultures in the history of man, is the most versatile vegetable that has existed, and it is the bambusoids.

The bambusoids are a subfamily of the great family of grasses, and it is known of the existence of 90 genders and 1500 species in the world, which can be herbaceous or woody. In Ecuador it has been said that approximately 270 species can exist, unfortunately there is no germplasm bank for the study of bambusoids, their qualities and characteristics.

No specialized study of this vegetable has been established, the most important in our history. However, the few studies that have been carried out in our country show us that there are the highest living bamboo, up to 5300 meters above sea level, is the Neurolepis species (1).

We also have the best bamboo in the world in physical-mechanical qualities, the well-known Caña Guadua (Bambusa Guadua Angustifolia Kunth) (2). Thanks to satellite images, it has been discovered that one of the 24 species of guadua (guadinae), is the largest living organism in the world thanks to its large underground radicular system (1) was discovered in the Amazon.

We also have different species of daily use, such as: the reed, the cane brave, the sixe, the thrash, the moya and many others that have built our culture, but unfortunately they have been underestimated so far. In any case, current science is showing us that this plant will be the living system that could save not only the forests of the world but also the protection of water resources and atmospheric purification.

Research developed by archaeologists specialized in archaeobotany, specifically in the analysis of phytoliths, which is the microscopic analysis of plant fossils that were used by the old settlers, in different settlements, indicate that, thanks to statistics, that vegetables that appear with more frequency, are the bambusoides (3), that is to say that it has been the vegetable more used by the aboriginal cultures of Ecuador, and referring to this case in particular, in the coasts of Manabí where some of the the best multidisciplinary archaeological research, led by Dr. James Zeidler and Deborah Pearsall. These data are reasonable to know that the bambusoides, especially the bamboo cane, constituted and still constitutes the most used raw material in our country.

The famous Caña Guadúa has always been used, in housing constructions, as fuel for cooking, pottery and goldsmithing thanks to its high caloric power 4500 kilo-calories in dry state, the highest among vegetables. Possibly, thanks to this quality, the Tolita culture came to melt the Platinum exceeding 1770 degrees Celsius using the Guadua Cane, a species that reaches 20 cm per day of growth at an early stage of its growth.

In green, bamboo is the plant with the lowest caloric power, this helps to be the safest vegetable for the prevention of forest fires, that’s why it was the only living being that survived and sprouted at the zero point of the atomic explosion of Hiroshima. (5), and subsequently helped the survivors to rebuild their habitat.

All the colonial cities have been built with bamboo. We have the case of Quito. If we place ourselves in the corridors of the convent of the church of San Francisco, we will see that the roofs are armed with reed, moya and tunda that are species that existed in the plains of Quito, and in the present should be the priority species for policies of reforestation not only for its multiple uses that could provide jobs, in crafts, construction and crops; but also for its unique ecological characteristics.

The art, the pottery, the basketry as the baskets with which we go shopping to the market have been made with reed, in Latacunga we have the biggest bamboo crafts market in Ecuador. Especially music, which shows the spirituality of our past by not knowing if it is the wind that enters through the bamboo that creates the sound or if it is the bamboo that sings with the air. The quenas, rondadores, pingullos, zampoñas delight us with their soul. Mad cows, fliers, castles and all kinds of pyrotechnic games are built with bamboo, and even the picturesque kites made with the sixes.

The international industry for many years has used bamboo as a source of very important supplies. 80% of the paper consumed by India and China comes from bamboo paper pulp. Furniture, laminates, agglomerates, coal, fertilizers, oils, resins, medicines, handicrafts, instruments based on bamboo are made, this means that tropical wood could be protected with an adequate use of bamboo, and are superior results thanks to the qualities of the bamboo, it is light, strong, flexible, it resists great compressions and above all tractions with traction modules of 1400 kilos / cm2 stronger than the construction iron. It has to be classified as a priority material in earthquake-resistance standards. Absorbs sounds, smells, high temperatures and has unmatched aesthetic qualities.

With this background it is demonstrated that it is not necessary to deforest our forests since we have a more renewable vegetable of the world and that offers superior qualities to other tropical woods, in all senses, both economic and industrial. The communities of our country must adopt this reforestation policy with Guadúa, above all for the ecological qualities that we will see next:

Ecological Services

Bamboo has five qualities that make it an undeniable and emerging need.

  1. It is the fastest growing vegetable in the world, produces more biomass than any tropical wood, and of better quality. It takes just four years to be harvested. Baby plants from the main onw will always be born which will mature. That means that the harvest will be done only once in life and each time it will improve its quality, in size and strength (4)

  2. It is the vegetable that retains more moisture than any other vegetable, in wet seasons it stores water with nutritional and medicinal properties inside the canutos, and in the dry season it dosifies the water to the roots, retaining moisture in the soil. It is a true water factory (4). Plants that have this quality are called freatofite.

  3. Its root system extends underground in such a way that it becomes the best soil retainer against erosion. At the same time it enriches the soils in a way that allows to fix coal with high efficiency, for that reason it is well known among the farmers that the soils of the sugarcane plantations have always been the best (4).

  4. Its cellular structure in the foliar area is called Carbon 4, which allows it to carry out photosynthesis in a much more efficient way than any other vegetable. It can reach carbon sequestration and produce around five times more oxygen than any other vegetable. This is due to its rapid growth. Its leaves are small but numerous which allows it to have a larger surface coverage than other vegetables (4). With this characteristic it can be proposed that the guadua plantations go on to sell stock rights in the stock exchanges, in the joint implementations of air pollution mitigation; they are the CDM clean development mechanisms.

  5. It is the vegetable that captures more fauna and therefore seeds, this makes it the best and most suitable system for reforestation, cheap and fast. Being the most sociable vegetable, it also allows intercropping with other species (1). A good alternative can be endemic legumes that provide nitrogen to the soil.