Look hard at this snap and you’ll see what happens to older culms in a grove approaching maturity.
In a grove’s formative years, the difference in height between one year’s growth and that of the next is not so significant in actual metres. A giant culm, however, can tower several metres above its immediate predecessors. Several in one area will block out the sun for anything branching well below, however large. Now, when a culm is deprived of light, it dies prematurely; consequently, many fine culms in my grove are perishing after only a couple of years. It’s part of a natural and long-desired transition to adult production, yet I’m not happy that some cherished bamboo poles have to die off before a good harvesting age.
None of this matters in the long term, since one wants a forest of adults culms, and that’s now going to happen. But even if those prematurely dead culms can’t be harvested, shouldn’t they be cut and taken away for the sake of neatness?
The answer is this: moso knows what it’s doing. Look harder at the photo above, see the drab lower culms which are leaning and even criss-crossing.
Then consider what is happening through the entire grove during this spring burst. Out on the perimeter, new shoots have grown and branched rapidly.
These scattered pioneers, of moderate size, seldom break in wind. The established part of the grove, however, sends up culms much more slowly and puts a lot more juice into them. These are the towering giants we’ve been talking about, and for some weeks they are tender and very heavy with sap. (How would you like growing to your full lifetime height in under two months?) At the base they are in shelter, but their tops are above everything and exposed to everything, especially to the worst southerly and westerly winds.
If you had to design a perfect support for these tottering monsters, it would be something strong but springy, with the ability to bend and slide while offering just the right amount of resistance, preferably through fine, wiry branchlets…
That’s right! Those seemingly useless dead or dying culms are acting as ideal supports for the new generation of larger culms.
What is good order and economy for tidy humans, may be disorder and waste from the point of view of the plant or animal you are trying to raise.