Most people believe bamboo to be a kind of shrub or plant. In fact, it is neither. It is a type of grass. It can reach a height of about 35 metres and up to a thickness of about 30 centimetres. There are many varieties of bamboos. About 600 species of bamboos have been studied. All kinds of bamboos have smooth, hard and strong trunks. The rate of their growth is very fast, and can some grow up to 40 centimetres in a day. There is a kind of bamboo that grows 90 centimetres in 24 hours. Some varieties of bamboos blossom once in 30 years, others may take about 100 years to blossom. A bamboo dies after it blooms. The seeds from these blossoms grow into new plants. Bamboo is a very useful grass. It has a variety of uses. The stem of the bamboo is widely used in the construction of roofs, huts, walls, houses, etc. It is also used to make mats, baskets, musical pipes, paper, fishing rods and weapons for self-defence. Young bamboo shoots are cooked as a vegetable and pickle is also made of them; some medicines are also made from the fluid obtained from the stem joints of bamboo branches. Its hollowed stems are used as water pipes, especially in Japan. In South-west China, Pandas live in bamboo thickets and feed on its shoots. This amazing grass is found in abundance in South-east Asia, the Indian subcontinent and the islands of the Pacific Ocean.