Maximizing the Utilization of Bamboo in the Hawaiian Islands

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2009: $14,460.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2011
Grant Recipient: Whispering Winds Bamboo
Region: Western
State: Hawaii
Principal Investigator:
Rich von Wellsheim
Whispering Winds Bamboo

Annual Reports

Information Products


  • Agronomic: bamboo


  • Pest Management: cultural control



    Whispering Winds Bamboo is dedicated to "Creating a Culture of Bamboo” here on the Hawaiian Islands, which includes the cultivation and post harvest use of clumping tropical timber bamboos. We have demonstrated that clumping bamboos can be successfully grown on the islands (not only on our farm on Maui but also on the farm of our project cooperator on the big island of Hawaii). We are now turning our attention and energy to the post harvest aspect of bamboo, which includes treatment, curing and building with bamboo. This Western SARE Farmer/Rancher grant project focuses on the inherent and treated resistance to attack by termites of six species of bamboo.

    The results of the testing on our untreated samples corroborates our on-farm experience that untreated bamboo is very susceptible to attack by wood eating insects like termites and powder post beetle. We have concluded that without appropriate treatment, use of bamboo, on or off the farm, results in a short useable life thus mitigating any benefit to the farmer for use on the farm or for sale to the public.

    The lab results from the testing of six species of untreated bamboo samples that were subjected to a no-choice test using two termite species (Coptotermes gestroi and Coptotermes formosanus) were clear. The samples were three year old clumping bamboos from clumps that were six years old and the species were: Gigantochloa psuedoarundinacea, Bambusa oldhamii, Guadua angustifolia, Dendrocalamus brandisii, Dendrocalamus latifloris and Bambusa hirose. The samples tested showed no inherent resistance to attack, although some species faired better than others.

    We have included the summary of Dr. Grace’s work in the appendix of this report, as well as a power point presentation that Dr. Grace’s graduate student presented at the annual meeting of the Entomological Society of American in San Diego last December. We have been focused on the outreach side of our grant as of late. In addition to the table we hosted at the Body and Soil Conference here on Maui from the January 14-16, 2011, we attended and presented at the Hawaii Chapter of the American Bamboo Society’s annual Bamboo Festival in September. Also, we have posted our project results on the Hawaii Farmer Union web site and attended a monthly meeting with copies of the research and talked with folks at length. We also made our results available at the recent American Bamboo Societies annual meeting held in Louisiana two weeks ago.

    We have been working with Dr. Jeff Lloyd of the Nissus Corp who supplies us with the borate material for our pressure treatment system as he has tested samples of our treated bamboo for borate retention. He has connected us with a lab, run by Dr. Kristin Van Den Meiracker, which is testing our treated and untreated samples of a single species (Gigantochloa attar) to a third species of termite (Reticulitermes).

    Project objectives:

    Our project proposed to test up to eight species of clumping bamboo for resistance to termite attack without treatment. We have been fortunate in having Dr. Ken Grace, our technical advisor, spearheading the lab work so that our results are in keeping with standard testing protocol (they used E1-09 from the American Wood Protection Association and ASTM D 3345-74), and therefore acceptable to all concerned. At Whispering Winds Bamboo we are committed to bringing island-grown bamboo into the market place as a renewable and locally grown building product for the home and farm. Proper post harvest handling and treatment is key to a dependable long-lasting material, and this work on insect resistance of bamboo is important in crafting a protocol that will give our bamboo projects longevity and dependability.

    We have also spent considerable effort to get this information out to the public so that their bamboo projects will be long lasting and satisfying.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.