Efforts to thoroughly study the role that plants play in climate change mitigation are increasing. Most researchers focus on the promise of large, leafy forest trees to help remove carbon from the atmosphere; for example Lal (1998) in India, Chen (1999) in Canada, Zhang (2003) in China, and Monson ( 2002) in the United States. This is because, generally speaking, the bigger the plant, the more CO2 it absorbs – click here to see how plants do this - and trees are the most obvious large plant species. However, there are some very large non-tree plants in the world and increasing evidence points to a surprising grassy climate change warrior: bamboo.
One species of bamboo, the guadua angustifolia, found in Venezuela, Ecuador, and Colombia, has been shown to grow up to 25 meters in height and 22 centimeters in diameter, with each plant weighing up to 100 kilograms (Rojas de Sánchez, 2004). This doesn’t match the stature of many trees, but it is still big enough to be significant. It is not all about size, however. How fast a plant grows has a part in determining how much CO2 it can absorb in a given time. In this respect, bamboo wins hands-down: it grows faster than many trees, growing up to 1.2 meters per day. In fact, bamboo holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s fastest growing plant. Read the rest of this entry »