A Decoration That Could Bring Down a Species

by Kyle Harman, Sustainable Plant Systems major

Next time you buy your friend or co-worker ornamental  bamboo make sure you know where it is sourced from. Recently the hearty plant has been impacted by pathogens and diseases.

Many people believe all bamboo is the same, however several varieties exist for specific hardiness zones, growth rates, and other decorative factors. Varieties range from lucky bamboo on a desk to square bamboo that Giant Pandas eat.

All of these varieties of bamboo are at risk of death. The current risk is “bamboo mosaic virus”. This virus has become more common in lucky bamboo due to the lack sanitation in the nurseries where it is grown. Focus relies cutting and propagating new shoots instead of sterilizing equipment. Improper sterilization is a leading cause for viruses and bacteria to spread geographically and interspecies.

You may ask what’s the worst that can happen if bamboo dies. Bamboo has two specific roles – economically and nationally. Economically, bamboo is a unique wood harder than most. This strong quality allows for bamboo to be great in commercial setting that few other woods compare too. Bamboo is the chief food for Chinese Giant Pandas. These pandas don’t simply snack on the bamboo – an adult can consume upwards of 50 pounds each and every day. Deforestation of bamboo creates lose of food and habitat for these precious animals

Next time you want to buy a plant for a friend to sit on their desk. Consider the virus that could be transmitted, the bamboo that can be diseased and destroyed, and non-living decorations that will not host viral diseases.

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This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

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