Bamboo Species of Colombia
9 genera, 70 species
Colombia has the second highest woody bamboo diversity in Latin America. At present, 9 genera and 70 species are reported, with 24 species being endemic and at least 12 species remaining to be described.
The Andean region has the largest quantity and greatest diversity of woody species (89%) and the Eastern Cordillera is the richest with 55% of all woody bamboos reported until now. About 60% of the woody species are found from 2,000 to 3,500m altitude.
The Colombian departments (states) with the highest woody bamboo diversity are Norte de Santander, Cundinamarca, Cauca, Valle del Cauca, Antiquia, Huila, Narino and Quandio. The majority of species belong to Chusquea genus (30%), with the rest of the species belonging to the genera Arthrostylidium, Aulonemia, Elytrostachys, Merostachys, Neurolepis, Rhipidocladum, Guadua and Otatea.
Colombia is one of the few countries in Latin America where bamboo plays a notable role in the local economy and traditional culture. The genera Aulonemia, Chusquea, Elytrostachys, Guadua and Rhipidocladum include several species that are used by various native and rural mestizo communities to satisfy basic necessities.
Even though only Guadua angustifolia has real economic value, Colombia has a rich culture and history regarding the processing and utilization of bamboo poles. There are population inventories as well as significant research on management, production, marketing and industrial uses for Guadua angustifolia. The impact of the rest of the species on the local economy is minimal. These are utilized only by people close to the source.
Colombia’s area of Guadua forests is estimated at 51,500 ha, of which 46,261 ha has natural forests and 5,260 ha cultivated ones. The total area of natural Guadua forest in the four central-western departments represents 44% of the national total, with 75% of the Guadua stands between 0.4 and 10 ha in size. Only 16-20% of this area has proper management.
With an average production of 1,000 culms/ha/year, the total Guadua culm production for the four central-western departments can be calculated to be 20.3 million of green culms per year, equivalent to 911,745 ton/year in green conditions (45 T-m/ha).