Forests to discover: Arashiyama Sagano, Japan

Arashiyama used to be an imperial place away from court stress in central Kyoto

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Forests to discover: Arashiyama Sagano, Japan

Arashiyama used to be an imperial place away from court stress in central Kyoto. The area's famous bamboo forest winds its way through majestic green trunks that sway in the wind. The bamboo of the forest is also used as raw materials in local crafts, for the creation of baskets, chairs and bags.

This is allowed as new trees are being planted simultaneously and in proportion. The forest is located near the Tenryu-ji, a temple recognized as a Unesco heritage since 1994 and home to the Rinzai-shū school. To access the park it is necessary to cross the Togetsukyo bridge, which also serves as a scenic spot.

About bamboo and their forests

Most of the bamboo species are native to Asia and South America. They can be found at varying altitudes, up to 3000 m in the Himalayas. Some species are spontaneous in Africa and Oceania. The roots are generally of the fasciculate type derived from short-necked rhizomes.

An exception is the Chusqueinae sub-tribe where the rhizomes are amphimorphic. Their type of development is very variable; in fact there are species where the roots develop considerably horizontally or vertically. The leaf blades are erect or reflected with lanceolate to lanceolate-linear or triangular or oblong shapes; in some species they end apiculate.

In some species, the wax is unevenly distributed on the surface of the leaf blade, leaving a narrow marginal sector with no or reduced wax on the abaxial side. The main inflorescence is mostly branched and has the shape of a large open panicle.

The secondary inflorescence takes the form of spikelets formed by some flowers subtended by two-four bracts called glumes. The fruits are of the caryopsis type, that is, they are small indehiscent grains, tapered with hairy or spherical apex, in which the pericarp is formed by a wall that surrounds the single seed.

In particular, the pericarp, fleshy and succulent, is fused to the seed and is adherent. The endocarp is not hardened and the hilum is long and linear. The embryo is provided with an epiblast. The embryonic margins of the leaf overlap.

They propagate mainly through roots, which can propagate underground and launch new culms that sprout to the surface. There are two ways for bamboo to propagate: monopodial and sympodial. The monopodial bamboo species have a slow underground propagation; in the synopodial bamboo species, on the other hand, there is a high variability.