Two botanists from Iowa State University recently discovered a new species of North American bamboo in the hills of Appalachia. Professor Lynn Clark says it’s one of only three types of bamboo known in North America. She says most people probably know bamboo as something used for fishing poles.
Clark says it’s in the same group and is a smaller bamboo than the one that is used for fishing poles. Clark has studied bamboo all her career, but was surprised to discover the first new North American variety in 200 years. Clark says they’d always heard of two types of bamboo in the U.S., the switch cane and the river cane. Clark says they started talking to people who said they should look into what was called hill cane.
Clark and botany student Jimmy Triplett confirmed the discovery. She says once they found it and looked at the bamboo, they very quickly realized they’d discovered a new species. Clark says this new type of bamboo is likely a good home and food source for animals.
Clark says the unusual thing is this bamboo drops its leaves every fall and then grows them back, something the other bamboos don’t do. Clark says the bamboo likely serves as a food source and habitat. Clark says the new bamboo is limited to the southern U.S.
Clark says they think this bamboo is limited to southwestern North Carolina, northern Georgia, the southeastern corner of Tennessee and northeastern Alabama, much more restricted distribution than other bamboos. Clark says the other two types of bamboo were discovered more than 200 years ago.