The intimate relationship of bamboo and mankind is estimated to have continued for at least the last 50,000 years. It very likely served as irrigation pipes for the first experiments with agriculture. Before that, it no doubt served in a myriad of ways as tools of living. The time span is long enough for man to have altered the genetic makeup of many bamboo strains, as they were selectively grown for a particular purpose.
Bambusa vulgaris is the most widely distributed bamboo in the world, and has become the dominant species in Puerto Rico. Its' distribution has been a direct result of mankind, who appreciated the many uses it could serve. Its widespread distribution can also be attributed to an appreciation of its esthetic value, ease of propagation, and even food value. Here in Puerto Rico, B. vulgaris owes much of its distribution to the Puerto Rico Highway Department, recognizingthat bamboo makes a excellent erosion control on the lower side of the twisted, mountain roads.
With the acquisition of Puerto Rico in 1898 by the United States,the U.S.D.A. established the Tropical Agriculture Experiment Station in Mayaguez. Here,bamboos from all over the world were imported and established, with much research into their uses and structural characteristics. The current inventory includes over 100 species of both tropical and temperate bamboos. Island Ambiance, in association with the Puerto Rico Chapter of the American Bamboo Society, has renewed interest in the bamboo collection. We helped design a new tropical bamboo garden , with a representative clump of each of the bamboos found on the station.
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