The Story Behind Your Bamboo Flute
This is an ongoing investigation.
If you have something to add, it will be passionately welcomed.
After 42 years of mystery, I wanted to finally answer the following questions:
1) What is the story behind my flutemaking bamboo?
I use 3 kinds. One is yellow with green stripes called Bambusa Multiplex Alphonse Karr. Many times this yellow bamboo will turn green and have a yellow stripe and the other is called Bambusa Multiplex Silverstripe due to its silver stripe on the bottom node.
2) Where did Bambusa multiplex come from?
Originally from SE China and Viet Nam to the south of Japan where it is warmer, settling in form many years in the Japanese Emperor's gardens, to the temples, into the Nurseries near Yokohama, to San Francisco via steam ship in 1887, through H H. Berger & Co. via train to Theo L Mead of Oviedo Florida near Orlando.
3) How did this bamboo get here?
By Ship, train and horse wagon.
4) Who do I have to thank for my flutemaking career?
My bamboo was first mentioned in 1790 by Portugese botinist, doctor and Jesuit missionary Joao de Loureiro who traveld to the Orient in 1742 and visited Canton China in 1777. He was big on medical plants and left the priesthood to serve the king of Cochina as a mathamatician
Through plant hunters in China and Japan serving Europe in 1850's, settling into England, Southern France and Algeria.
Through Henry H Berger one of the fist to bring Japanese plants into California and 15 species into Florida starting in 1877. -
Through David Fairchild Plant Explorer around 1902 who settled in Miami after traveling the world. Fairchild concentrated on giant timber bamboos trying to convince the USA that it was a great asset in China, Japan, Indonesia and India and would serve us well in the USA. These introductions came through Steamers and a Military Transport into Bamboo Plantations in Bakersfield and USDA experimental stations in Chico California into a bamboo planting in Avery island Louisiana, Miami, a bamboo plantation Brookville Fl. and later settling into a bamboo farm near Savannah, Georgia.
The last introductions via seed, roots and plants were through Floyd Alonzo McClure who played the flute, amassed 600-800 species at the Canton Christian College in Southern China and became one of the authorities on bamboo. I followed McClurer's travels into Nicaragua where he set up a bamboo plantation in 1948, which is pretty much lost to history but is doing very well. I had the privilege to travel there, find the bamboo and make a flute from this bamboo which had come from China to Puerto Rico to Nicaragua.
Here is the unfolding story with some of the Human Interest Story and a timeline..
Let’s first start in China where a side blown bamboo flute, believed to be the "Tsche,” was played around 2,637 BC. Both ends were closed, with a mouth-hole in the middle.
The oldest existing side blown transverse bamboo flute was discovered in the Tomb of Marquid Yi of Zeng located in the Hubei province in China dating around 433 B.C.
Chinese women playing bamboo flutes 12th-century
The above music is played on one of Erik's "Chinese Flutes" from the Chinese bamboo that migrated to The Yokohama Nursery in Japan and then settled into Florida around 1887 and a bit before.
Bambusa Multiplex in China
Bambusa Multiplex-Hedge Bamboo is native to South East China and gets its name because it forms a dense hedge used for screens. It is the most common bamboo in Florida and is found today among the remaining early bamboo clumps at the United States Department of Agriculture station near the town of Brooksville in Florida. This is a tall clumping bamboo whose thin walls and long nodes makes our great bamboo flutes when grown in the right conditions.
Another Flutemaking bamboo from China found in Florida is Bambusa Multiplex Alphonse Karr.
Origin: Yangtze Valley, China.
China has more than 500 species of bamboo. The total area of China's bamboo resources is nearly 3 percent of the country's total forest area which is one-quarter of the world bamboo area.
Bamboo is closely associated with Chinese civilization. Their use can be traced back as far as the New Stone Age.
Bamboo Grove in Japan
“In the Orient the commercial groves of bamboo stretch for miles along the streams, and, aside from the fact that they are lucrative investments, they form the most enchantingly beautiful landscape effects. It is with the object of creating a sufficiently large grove of these plants for the commercially inventive minds of Americans to work upon, that this planting at Brooksville, Florida, has been made.” David Fairchild Head Plant Explorer of the United States Department of Agriculture. 1908
Erik’s Alphonse Karr and Silverstripe Multiplex in Davie FL.
Bambusa multiplex settles into the US from China
Report on Bamboo on Chinsegut Hill Brooksville, FL.
The bamboo doorway into Florida
Brooksville Plant Introduction Field Station 1910
P. H. Dorsett, Plant Introducer, in Charge of Plant Introduction Field Stations took the above Brooksville picture.
“THIS FIRST GOVERNMENT GROVE OF TIMBER AND EDIBLE BAMBOO,
ESTABLISHED IN A CLEARING ON THE RICH LANDS OF NORTHERN FLORIDA”
USDA conversation 1920’s
Mr. Howell. Are you still working at the introduction of the bamboo plants?
Mr. Fairchild. Certainly.
Mr. Howell. After 20 years?
Mr. Fairchild. Certainly; we would work at them for 50 years, if necessary… We keep this bamboo grove in Florida from which we propagate and distribute.
(Erik: “It profoundly pleases me to think that the bamboo brought over is still growing around Florida and that this bamboo has been made into thousands of flutes distributed all over the world!”)
Bamboo Time Line in the USA
Ethnobotanists consider Arundinaria gigantea, to have been extremely important to Native Americans in what is now the Southeastern United States before European colonization. The plant was used to make structures, weapons, fishing equipment, jewelry, baskets, musical instruments, furniture, boats and medicines. It was used extensively as a fuel, and parts of the plant were eaten. The canebreaks also provided ideal land for crops, habitat for wild game, and year-round forage for livestock. Known as River Cane it has historically been used to construct Native American flutes, particularly among tribes of the Eastern Woodlands. The Atakapa, Mukogee Creek, Choctaw, Cherokee, and other Southeastern tribes have traditionally used this material for mat and basket weaving, and the Chitimacha and Eastern Band Cherokee still widely weave with River Cane today.
River Cane basket Cherokee Nation
1788:Arundinaria or Arunda Gigantea commonly known as cane,or Cane Breaks and River Cane is the bamboo native to eastern North America originally described by Thomas Walter in 1788. As these giant patches of bamboo represented fertile soils, the European settlers settled on it cutting it back clearing the land and using it for fire wood. When the flowering cycles occurred it would die off. That plus the over grazing of it dwindled the bamboo and it was not replaced. Pioneers wrote about the monstrous native canebrake stalks of Arunda Gigantea growing throughout thousands of acres from Florida to Virginia, from Georgia to Texas north to Missouri and the Ohio Valley. This native bamboo was a dominant feature of frontier landscape.
Buffalo migrated through it into Kentucky and Tennessee feeding on it in winter.
Indians hunted in it, European Settlers wintered their livestock in it to keep warmer and forage and slaves fled through it to hide on their travels to freedom. In 1857, it was mentioned that this bamboo was so thick “that a bird could not fly through.”
These have declined significantly due to clearing, farming and fire suppression. After colonization, cane lost its importance due to the destruction and decline of canebreaks, forced relocation of indigenous people
, and the availability of superior technology from abroad.
1820s: Arundo donax (River cane, a light yellow stalk) was introduced by Spanish colonists from the Mediterranean region of Europe to California in the 1820's for roofing material, erosion control, fencing, thatch, framing, musical instruments and woodwind reeds. Additional plantings as an ornamental throughout the country have caused it to become naturalized along North America's fresh waterways.
Map of where the Arunda Gigantea our American Bamboo grew
1840’s Spanish colonists bring Vulgais Bamboo into Florida.
1860 A Japanese bamboo came into Pennsylvania.
1882: Todd Montgomery brings in Phylastachys Aurea also called Golden Bamboo into Alabama. It is native to Southeast China and grown for its screening abilities.
1894 Black bamboo comes into Shreveport Louisiana.
1890 Near Savannah Ga. a lady planted 3 Timber bamboos by her well and by 1915 it went wild taking over her acre and surrounding her 2 story house. This later became the largest bamboo garden in the US covering 46 acres.
1896: Agricultural Explorer, David Fairchild and his friend and mentor Barbour Lathrop find bamboo in Sumatra Indonesia and were struck by how beautiful bamboo was and how useful it was, in Asia.
1897: The 2 above enter into a partnership to better mankind, to seek and study bamboo and introduce them into the US. This lasted until Bathrop’s death in 1927. This attributed to a lot of bamboo introduced into the US. They established a network of plant introduction stations where plant explorers could send plants. These stations or doorways into the US were in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, California and Puerto Rico. These are the guys to thank for the large portions of bamboo in the US today.
1902: David Fairchild (1869 -1954) in Japan sends Japanese edible timber bamboos to San Francisco. Some of this bamboo settles into Louisiana.
Japanese grove 1902 Forest Of Timber Bamboo (phyllostachys Quilioh)
USDA PLANT INTRODUCTIONS 1902
9056. Bambusa Alphonse Karri Bamboo.
From Yokohama, Japan. Received through Messrs. Lathrop and Fairchild
(No. 1000, August 9, 1902), November, 1902.
Suivochiku, or Suochiku. "A species of striped bamboo which is considered by Mitford as tender in England. It is an exceedingly pretty species and worthy of trial in clumps in Florida and southern California, where it should grow to a height of 10 feet. When young the culms appear in autumn of a purplish color, traversed with green stripes. This should be distributed in lots of at least 10 plants." (Fairchild.)
1906: Organized bamboo collecting began in earnest in 1906 by Frank Meyer, a USDA plant explorer. After a trip to sultry Chekiang (Zhejiang) Province, where he collected timber bamboo
Frank Meyer Agricultural Explorer
1907 Bamboo Introduction: Object.—To introduce and establish timber bamboo into sections of the United States where this plant will succeed and to encourage its planting in commercial quantities. Location.—California, Louisiana, Florida, Maryland and the Mcllhenny Co. on Avery Island, La.
FL. Results.—Over 100 different introductions tested; 3 acres of timber bamboos growing at Brooksville, Fla. Assignment.—David Fairchild, P. H. Dorsett, Peter Bisset, and Wm. H. F.
Arriving in California with his plants in 1908
May 1908: After transporting his collection to Shanghai in May 1908, Meyer supervised the packing of 20 tons of plant material, including 30 kinds of bamboo. He found bamboo hard to propagate and sustain alive on its travels. The Agricultural inspectors in San Francisco found some scale and fumigated his bamboo to death which broke his heart and he never again transported bamboo back. Aparently one survived which was named after him now called Phyllostachys Meyeri a short node runner.
June 1908: Meyer travels to the United States. Throughout the four-week voyage to America, he exposed his plants to sun and air whenever the weather was mild.
July 1, 1908: Mr. Frank N. Meyer returned from a three years' exploration of China and Manchuria to report and spend the next year visiting his plant introductions at agricultural experiment stations.
1908: David Fairchild, in charge of USDA plant introductions, and who had done experiments with bamboo in Ceylon, Java, West Africa, Colombia and Japan had 3,500 clumps of various Bamboos shipped from Japan to San Francisco California in an army transport ship in 1908.
Half were sent to the William Tevis Ranch in Bakersfield, a desert area 100 miles north of Los Angeles, and half to a plant introduction garden at Chico in northern California. The Bakersfield clumps were planted outdoors in January, later they flowered and died.
The bulk of the plants now at Chico will be transported to Brooksville Fl. this winter and the remainder possibly to other points yet to be selected in the South or Southwest.
3000 bamboo plants of the timber bamboo came in to Chico Ca. from Japan and were sent to Brooksville and Avery Island in Louisiana.
The Chico clumps were planted in a heated greenhouse, watered heavily, and survived to be shipped to Brooksville, Florida a year later.
1909: - Because temperatures ranged too low to grow bamboo near Charleston, Meyer and Clarke moved on to Augusta and Savannah; ... The search led next to Gainesville, Florida. Still the region appeared unsuitable for bamboo culture. Traveling by buggy across rolling hills to Brooksville, Florida, Meyer grew hopeful as he observed big timber and tropical fruits…Isabel Shipley Cunningham
After a thorough investigation in the Southern States it has been decided to accept an offer of 20 acres of land near Brooksville, Fla., and to establish there the first experimental grove of timber bamboos in this country. (from Japan and China)
Brooksville, Fla. Report from Mr. Frank N. Meyer...
Bamboo Garden Brooksville, Fla.—The generosity of a local tobacco company in deeding 20 acres of fertile hummock land at Brooksville, Fla., heavily timbered with trees indigenous to that section, to the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station, to be held in trust for the use of the Department of Agriculture, made the establishment of the bamboo garden possible. The soil, a sandy loam underlaid with clay, is naturally well drained. In view of the similarity of the conditions to those in countries where the bamboo is indigenous, it is believed that an ideal place for this work has been found. Ten acres of this land were cleared in 1909.
Location.—Brooksville, Fla. Date begun.—1909. Results.—Bamboo plantings have been made and a number of rhizomes will soon be available for distribution.
Bamboo Introduction: Object.—To introduce and establish timber bamboo into sections of the United States where this plant will succeed and to encourage its planting in commercial quantities. Over 100 different introductions tested; 3 acres of timber bamboos is growing at Brooksville, Fla.
1910 Brooksville: Five acres of which were planted in the spring of 1910 to four of the best timber varieties of bamboo. The work as planned has for its object the growing of the species of valuable bamboos in sufficient quantity to demonstrate their commercial importance in the United States. In addition to these plantings at Brooksville, one acre of young imported plants has been set out at Avery Island, La., in cooperation with a local (Tabasco) company.
As bearing on the probable future of bamboo culture in this country, the report from Mr. Frank N. Meyer, Agricultural Explorer, of the successful establishment of a bamboo industry in the Caucasus, giving new methods-of handling the canes in the manufacture of furniture, deserves mention.
1910: Richard Waldron of the Bamboo Society informs us in 2002 that George C. Taber established the Glen Saint Mary Nurseries just west of Jacksonville, Florida in 1882. His 1910 catalogue listed 7 varieties of bamboo including Bambusa Multiplex. Presently mature plantings are all over the nursery and since most of the buildings and landscaping date back to the earliest days, a visit is like visiting Florida in the early 1900's. So we know that many of the plants had their start at that time. We were treated to a tram ride through the nursery grounds to see literally hundreds of clumping bamboos including Bambusa Multiplex Alphonse Karr, and Silver Stripe all good for flutemaking. The nursery is still located at 7703 Glen Saint Mary Nursery Road, Glen Saint Mary, FL 32040.
(From Bamboo Society Southeast Chapter - 2002 Glen Saint Mary Meeting)
Richard Waldron measuring a long node of Silverstripe
Multiplex from China takes hold in St. Mary’s Glen Nursery 1910
Bambusa Multiplex found in USA
1910: Cooperative planting at Avery Island, La. begun. Fairchild upon request shipped in April a carload. David Fairchild head of Foreign Plant Introduction of the USDA traveled the country looking for the right bamboo growing environment and trusted growers called “Cooperators” whom he entered into contracts with. Explorer, grower and horticulturalist, E. A. Ned McIhenny owned and ran Avery Island.
1913: Brooksville: Young bamboo plants sufficient to enlarge the grove of Japanese timber bamboos by 5 acres have been successfully propagated from rhizome cuttings.
Avery Island was noted as being the best place in the US where bamboo is thriving.
…”found the bamboo experiment here in better shape and further advanced than any other experiment the Dept. has in the US.” Peter Bisset
Progress Of New Introductions.—The presence in Louisiana of large clumps of the Japanese edible bamboo with stems 40 feet high, originating from plants that were imported in 1902, and the rapid growth made by the two department bamboo plantations in Louisiana and Florida, have demonstrated this year the promising character of this valuable plant for farm plantings in the South.
1914 Brooksville: As by 1914 a special Bamboo Garden had been established by the Office near the little town of Brooksville, because the Japanese and Chinese timber bamboos were unsuited to cultivation in South Florida, my attention was divided between Brooksville and the Miami Gardens.
(However Erik finds 3 locations in Homestead south of Miami where Multiplex was growing in 1974).
1915: Avery Island is growing giant Moso Bamboo sent by Fairchild and sends 112 plants from this Louisiana grove to John Deering in Miami of John Deer tractor. There is still timber bamboo at the entrance of Deering’s old Vizcaya mansion. Fairchild mentions he has been interested in this bamboo since 1902.
1917: Over 100 different introductions have been tested. The plantings at Brooksville were heavily manured in the summer and are making excellent growth.
China remained fully open to foreign plant collectors for less than half a century, the Grand Age of plant exploration.
1918: We are now in the midst of the distribution stage of small numbers of bamboo plants to men who are interested in its development. Of course, we have not yet secured all of the bamboos that will grow in this country. These are only a few of those that can be grown. These are some which we think are hardier than even the Japanese variety growing down at Brooksville.
1918: By January, Fairchild was having reservations about the Brooksville Fl. Station. “I had planned to come South…to make another investigation of the bamboo situation with a view of finding in Louisiana more suitable sites for our bamboo than we have in Florida…”
E.A. Mcllhenny has planted 64 different kinds of Bamboo on 80 acres of land on Avery Island, Louisiana in 1918. He was an enthusiastic Bamboo promoter, and his bamboo did better than any where else in the USA. But his interest in Bamboo was overshadowed by his success producing and selling Tabasco sauce. The Bamboo gardens on Avery Island are now called 'Jungle Gardens', and may be visited for a small fee. Jungle Gardens sold Bamboo plants for years, but because of lack of knowledgeable staff and interest by the Mcllhenny family, they ceased their nursery operation in 1979.
1918-19 Assignment.—David Falrchild, P. H. Dorsett, B. T. Galloway, Peter Bisset, J. M. Rankin.
Proposed expenditures, 1918-19.--$16,240.
Assignment.—R. A. Young, J. E. Morrow, L. G. Hoover.
Proposed expenditures, 1918-19.—$3,000.
Object.—To introduce and establish the edible and timber bamboos in sections of the United States where these plants will succeed and to encourage their planting in commercial quantities.
Procedure.—The bamboo plants are introduced and propagated and the rhizomes distributed. Cooperation is arranged with American manufacturers using bamboo in connection with the utilization of domestic-grown cane. The utilization of bamboo shoots as a vegetable is being exploited.
Location.—Plant-introduction field stations at Brooksville, Fla., Chico, Cal. and Rockville, Md., and cooperative planting at Avery Island, La.
Results.— Plants from the grove of a large timber variety at Savannah, Ga., have been secured for propagation and arrangements made for securing the young shoots this spring for cooking tests. The experimental planting of both the edible and timber bamboo at Avery Island, La. is doing well.
The general interest in regard to the economic possibilities of this wonderfully useful class of plants to America is increasing and, as basket making and other bamboo trades offer possibilities of an occupation for our maimed soldiers (World War 1) who will have to be taken care of, immediate steps possibly should be taken to establish extensive plantings of bamboo throughout the South.
The occurrence of serious bamboo diseases in several of the American bamboo plantations makes it appear necessary to take unusual steps for the eradication of these diseases and to start new plantations with plants known to be free from diseases.
1918-19 Brooksville Plant-Introduction Field Station: Results.— Because of the war and the restrictions of the Federal Horticultural Board, the distribution of the plants propagated was prevented. …all but about 5 acres of the 35 in the station has been cleared of forest, stumps, and roots and is now under cultivation. Many valuable data have been secured here regarding the oriental bamboo, its culture, diseases, and soil requirements through the maintenance of an experimental bamboo grove of several acres.
1919: The USDA began requiring a two year quarantine on Bamboo introduced into the U.S. because of some smut and rust discovered on Phyllostachys imported from Japan.
Dr. David Fairchild presenting Meyer Award 1920
1920’s: The USDA enthusiastically promoted Bamboo as a wonderful crop for small American farms. They described fencing, trellises, poles, bird shelters, windbreaks, hedges, screens, forage, food, building construction, furniture, concrete reinforcing and the manufacture of paper. They even created a kids bamboo club to teach the younger generation.
A major problem in their campaign was the lack of large quantities of Bamboo for propagation, lack of a labor force familiar with the material, and the commitment of the U.S. building and furniture industries to steel, aluminum, and plastic.
1925: Barbour Lathrop found an acre of land 14 miles south of Savannah, Georgia which had been planted with Oriental bamboo plants around 1895, and were 50-60’ high. He bought the grove with 40 acres of surrounding land and deeded it to the U.S. government for plant introduction work.
1926: April letter from Galloway, Fairchild’s boss, concerning bamboo at Brooksville: “So far as bamboos are concerned the Brooksville Fl. Garden was a failure… all the plants we had have been lost. The Brooksville Garden which was selected for bamboo growing, proved a veritable graveyard for many of our introductions.”
According to E.A. Mcllhenny of the Avery Island Louisiana bamboo plantation:
I understand the plants at Brooksville and Chico California bloomed themselves to death. (His were saved as he cut them back and placed the roots in the green house to propagate again.) The Brooksville Bamboo had flowered and died. (I suspect it was the highly sought after giant Timber bamboo that the bamboo introducers thought would be such a great asset to the USA)
The bamboos at Savannah also failed and the bamboo from Avery Island was able to restock Savannah.
1928: U.S. Plant Introduction Station near Savannah had been planted with 60-75 different species of Bamboo. A good collection has also been planted at the U.S. Plant Field Station at Bell, Maryland.
1930’s: The bamboos from Brooksville were transferred to Savannah, Georgia, and formed the nucleus of the Bamboo Garden there, and to my great regret the Brooksville Station was abandoned. Dr. David Fairchild
Later in the1930’s due to swamping and too much clay most of the Brooksville bamboo was moved to
Bamboo Farm & Coastal Gardens Savannah Ga. To the Barbour Lathrop Bamboo Groves. This collection is the result of the US Department of Agriculture’s effort to introduce to the public, particularly southern farmers, the many uses of bamboo.
1932: Floyd Mc Clure of Ohio went to China in 1936 shipped hundreds of bamboo plants of 56 species more than any other explorer. He returned in 1941 when war broke. He later studied and collected many of the South American species and is considered the one who has studied more species than anyone then and since. Researching commercial applications.
In the 1940’s hundreds of thousands of American soldiers and tourists visited the orient and brought back a higher level of Bamboo consciousness than ever previously existed in the United States. However, at the same time the USDA program of new plant introductions was not followed through consistently and steadily.
1961: The USDA stated it ‘Does not recommend large-scale Bamboo growing be undertaken in the expectation of making a profit, because there is no large market for the product in the U.S.’
1965: The USDA stopped large-scale Bamboo research.
Today most of the original Bamboo imported by the USDA is either dead or growing unidentified in unknown locations. (I have found many of these clumps from 1974 - 2011 promoted by old nurseries and planted by farmers all around Florida.)
1970: Erik the flutemaker finds Caña, Arundo Donax river cane … in Chiapas Mexico and begins making flutes.
1971 Erik Uses the same species in Guatemala
1972 Erik harvests Tacuara and Cañaveral in Argentina
1973 Erik Harvests Bambusa Multiplex in Brazil.
Erik finds bamboo in Persian rug stores in New York to make flutes.
And makes flutes in Seattle with Oriental bamboo
1974: Erik finds Bambusa Multiplex in Homestead Florida
Travels to Hawaii making flutes.
1975 - 2011: Erik moves to Florida to work with Frank Meyer’s Chinese Bamboo Multiplex from Homestead grove.
1982: The Barbour Lathrop Plant Introduction Garden near Savannah was taken over by the State of Georgia.
All efforts to grow Bamboo in the U.S. have subsequently been made by private collectors and growers.
Some of the Bambusa Multiplex In FL.
Feb 24 2011: Erik the flutemaker: On the slope of a sink hole at the historical Brooksville Agricultural Station there were perhaps 5 large 102 year old stands of Bambusa Multiplex. The Bamboo species I have been using since 1974!
From 1898 to 1975 hundreds of species were introduced to the US however in 1965 the plug was pulled by the USDA when pine trees for wood took more focus.
USDA FOREIGN SEED AND PLANT INTRODUCTION REPORT
During the past year the work of introducing foreign plants for the use of the official and private experimenters throughout the country has, as in previous years, been in charge of Mr. David Fairchild, Agricultural Explorer. The explorations in foreign countries have been conducted by Mr. Frank N. Meyer and Prof. N. E. Hansen.
Report On The Agriculture Of China.—Mr. Frank N. Meyer, who returned from a three years' exploration of China and Manchuria on July 1,1908, has been engaged during the past year in the preparation of an extensive report on the agriculture of northern and central China.
The problem of quick, cheap propagation of these tall-growing species is being worked out, as one of the chief expenses lies in the transportation of the heavy clumps of Bamboo which are now used by Orientals in starting their groves. The use of much smaller plants may not only reduce the freight expenses, but increase the chances of their successful culture.
The establishment of a grove is the first step in the problem of bringing the material to the attention of manufacturers, since bamboo timber must be worked up in the green state to develop the greatest variety of uses. Manufacturers must be assured of the possibility of a regular and adequate supply of this unique timber material before they will make machines capable of utilizing it. As a minor matter, but one worthy of serious consideration, will come the possibilities of marketing the fresh young bamboo shoots, which are as highly prized by Europeans in the Orient as is asparagus.
In addition to the large introduction of bamboos from Japan a new Chilean variety has been secured, and forms from the drier portions of India, which are reported to be frost resistant, have been grown from imported seed and distributed by the thousands to test their hardiness.
The bamboo industry, on which we have done a great deal of work, is one which has brought us some criticism. Everyone asks the question in regard to the bamboo, as to how it can be used. They say that oriental labor is so cheap and basketwork in China and Japan costs almost nothing, and the question of cost is a very pertinent one, as to how Americans can use this bamboo. Investigations which have been carried on by Mr. Frank Meyer and myself at different times in China—Mr. Meyer has just returned from three years in central and western China—indicate that the bamboo in the regions where it will grow throughout the Gulf States and California is a very handy plant to have upon the farm. When we first began the introduction of it, in 1902, we questioned whether the large species could be grown in this country; but the evidence now is conclusive that largest of these Oriental bamboos can be grown wherever soil conditions are suitable all through the South.
Here is a picture of a clump [producing photograph]. I think it is 55 feet high. It is not far from Savannah. There are clumps equally large in Louisiana and in California. And there is no reason why, since the bamboo can be propagated very readily from a small rhizome cutting only 6 or 8 inches long, groves of this bamboo should not be started all through the South.
The Chairman. How large is that bamboo—that one to the left?
Mr. Fairchild. That is a very old clump, planted twenty-odd years ago, brought by a private individual into Savannah.
Mr. Hawley. How large is the largest tree?
Mr. Fairchild. Fifty-five feet high.
Mr. Hawley. About how thick ?
Mr. Fairchild. They are about 14 inches in circumference and between 4 and 5 inches in diameter. That photograph which I passed around—that one of the grove—will give a very good idea of a grove that is now growing at Bakersfield, Cal.
Mr. Hawley. What do you propose to do with this? What economic use will be made out of it ?
Mr. Fairchild. The same kind of economic uses to which the bamboo is put in the Orient will apply in part to the farms in the South. That is, it is a kind of hollow, woody material which will make temporary irrigation pipes, and you can split it and make stakes of it. It is an excellent thing for light ladders, thrown together in a hurry, and for supports for fruit trees, vine sticks, chicken coops, and all sorts of small uses for which the farmer now has no material.
Mr. Hawley. Could it be grown in the Willamette Valley, so that we could use if for hop poles ?
Mr. Fairchild. Quite likely. I noted a small clump, which I had not known anything about until this summer, in central Oregon, which I am investigating just now. It will grow in Oregon and up into the State of Washington.
Mr. Howell. Are you still working at the introduction of the bamboo plants?
Mr. Fairchild. Certainly.
Mr. Howell. After 20 years ?
Mr. Fairchild. Certainly; we would work at them for 50 years, if necessary; that is, the actual amount of money we put into it is very small. We keep this bamboo grove in Florida from which we propagate and distribute.
Mr. Howell. It has been demonstrated that the plant can be successfully grown in this country ?
Mr. Fairchild. But no one can get the plants to grow; that is the difficulty. I should have explained it. That is a very important point. After a bamboo grove has become as large as this it is extremely difficult to get any good plants from it. If you wanted to get one of those plants, you would have to dig up a clump about 3 feet in diameter.
Mr. Howell. But where you have the object lesson in any community or district, is that not sufficient to encourage the propagation of the plant after that ?
Mr. Fairchild. Yes; but we have not gotten to that stage, sir. We are now in the midst of the distribution stage of small numbers of bamboo plants to men who are interested in its development. Of course, we have not yet secured all of the bamboos that will grow in this country. These are only a few of those that can be grown. These are some which we think are hardier than even the Japanese variety growing down at Brooksville. Floyd Alonzo McClure (1897-1970) was one of the world's leading authorities on the bamboo plant. Born in Shelby County, Ohio, McClure went to China as a teacher in 1919 after completing his undergraduate work at Ohio State University. He stayed in China for 24 years, working most of the time as professor of economic botany at Lingnan University in Canton. When the Japanese invaded China, McClure returned to the United States and became a consultant on bamboo for the United States Department of Agriculture. In the 1940s, he was appointed honorary research associate for the National Museum of Natural History, a position he held until his death in 1970.