Bamboo on the Island of Puerto Rico

Varieties of Bamboo Grown in Puerto Rico

Bambusa Vulgaris Detail Along the Roadside

 

‘Common Bamboo’ (Bambusa vulgaris) covers much of the island.

 

It was originally introduced to serve as erosion control along the many steep and winding roads of Puerto Rico. It is a very common sight up in the mountains, but can be seen down by the shoreline too.

 

It’s also sometimes used as a wind break between crops since it typically reaches heights of 35 to 40 feet. Occasionally, you will see Artesanos displaying items crafted from it. I’m surprised there is not more interest in bamboo’s many applications within PR. A very underdeveloped opportunity exists here. Nor does it require a large injection of working capital to get started… land, labor and time, for sure.

 

What follows is a list of the locations I’ve found to have bamboo growing in PR… all while researching articles for my other website- RobertosPuertoRico.com. Any links will take you to articles with some reference to bamboo.

 

Key Attractions-

 

USDA Tropical Agriculture Station of Mayagüez

 

By far the most impressive place to see bamboo in Puerto Rico is on the grounds of the Tropical Agriculture Station in Mayagüez. Bamboo Collection, Mayagüez Tropical Agriculture Station in Puerto RicoThe facility was originally developed for the study of bamboo, but not so much anymore. Their focus is now on other projects. The facility does have a beautiful collection of bamboo and tall grasses as well as as many other kinds of plants and trees. It is an extension of the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez campus, which is next door.

 

I have a very in-depth article about the facility with images from their collections. Basically, it’s free to the public and you are allowed to wander around at your own pace. Make sure to stop at the main building 1st, so you can score a nice map of the grounds. It is open year round. If you can go mid-week, the parking is not so bad.

 

The TropAg Station is on my list of the ‘Top 10 Must See Places’ in Puerto Rico.

 

Govardhan Gardens

 

Govardhan Gardens is located due east of Mayagüez, but before you get to Maricao. It is privately owned and operated and requires an appointment to visit. Sadhu sells exotic potted fruit, nut and bamboo plants as well as fruit and nut seeds. Sadhu of Govardhan Gardens Standing Next to a Bamboo ShootI have had the pleasure of dealing with him on several occasions. He maintains a very nice website that lists all the plant varieties he has available and what time of the year they can be had.

 

Bamboo Stand, Mayagüez Tropical Agriculture StationHe has dedicated himself to acquiring as many of the tropical varieties of bamboo he can get. Though the TropAg Station has more types of bamboo, he has more varieties of strictly tropical bamboo.

 

Sadhu has truly served as an inspiration for what I’m trying to do. Because he is back up in the mountains, his place is not accessible year round. It rained on us the day we were there, but it was worth the trip. You can see my original Post about Sadhu and Govardhan Gardens along with images of some of the trees and fruits that were in season. If you love gardening, his place is also a Must See while you are in Puerto Rico.

 

University of Puerto Rico, Botanical Gardens of San Juan

 

This is one of the oldest public gardens in Puerto Rico. It is relatively well maintained. Benches and restrooms are conveniently spread out through the park. If you find yourself with a few hours to kill, waiting to get on or off a cruise ship AND you are into gardening, this a great place to visit. It’s free and you are on your own to roam around. View of Bambusa Vulgaris from Suspension Foot Bridge at the Caguas GardensThere is a beautiful handout that outlines the features of the garden. It is available free, in either Spanish or English from the Visitors Center on the 1st parking lot, after the check-in gate. One section of the grounds is dedicated entirely to bamboo and features a Bamboo Chapel where folks can arrange to stage weddings and such. I wrote an article about the Botanical Gardens of San Juan where you can see and read much more.

 

The Botanical and Cultural Gardens of Caguas

 

This facility is relatively new, but well on it’s way to popularity. The park covers 60 acres and features stands of bamboo in several spots. If you are on a road trip from San Juan to Ponce, this is a worthy detour. There is a fee to get in, but there are many, many ‘photo-ops’ here. I think it qualifies as much as a wildlife sanctuary as it does a garden since there are so many critters here. Birds and reptiles abound. Strategic rest stops are situated on the grounds. There is a map so make sure you ask about the handout. A lot of planning and time has gone into developing this site. I wrote about the Botanical Gardens of Caguas with images that tell the whole story.

 

Scenic Views and Towns Featuring Bamboo-

 

One of the most picturesque drives in Puerto Rico is along Highways 3 and 901, in particular. This is on the Southeast corner of the island. Basically from Patillas, through Maunabo and on to Yabucoa. A Second View of Bambusa Vulgaris Along the Juncos RiverThe bamboo stands in this area are beautiful. The valley of Yabucoa and the hills above it are lush with bamboo. The East end of Puerto Rico gets a lot of rain, due to the Trade Winds.

 

Ruta Panoramica

 

There are a collection of roads through the Mountains that run East to West with spectacular views of the coast and tropical jungle growth. I have yet to drive the entire length, but what I have seen of it is quite grand. This is some very treacherous road and the going is very slow for most of it. It is not something you should try to do in one day, if you have never driven in Puerto Rico. That said, this is a great drive with lots and lots of roadside bamboo and tall Tree Ferns near the peaks. New Bambusa Vulgaris Bamboo Shoots and Culms near YabucoaIt can be quite chilly in the mountains so you might want to bring a sweater or sweatshirt. A drive in the mountains is very popular on the weekends. The link that follows is just a taste of what’s in store, read about a Sunday afternoon in Toro Negro Nature Reserve. The last shot features bamboo in the foreground.

 

Juncos-

 

Another town with beautiful stands of bamboo is Juncos. The river is just a block off the plaza and there you will find lots of old-growth bamboo. If it were not for tiny people or horse in the photo, you would not get a sense of how tall the stuff really is. Here’s a link to the Juncos Article and pictures.

 

Jayuya-

 

Shoreside Bamboo Driftwood Near YabucoaOutside of Jayuya is a wonderful boardwalk that takes you down to the river and back. It’s free and well worth the visit. Stands of bamboo run through the riverbed below.. they look like green feather-dusters, blowing in the wind. Locals come here on the weekend to camp out on the river to party and play. This is the heart of the island.. a most serene setting. Native relics date the area to well before the Spanish showed up. La Piedra Escrita is a great place to take a picnic lunch and kick back. You can check out more about the Jayuya area and images on my other site.

 

This Page will be updated as new discoveries are made. If you know of a place in Puerto Rico that features bamboo, PLEASE let me know and I’ll present it here. Thanx, Roberto

One Response to Bamboo on the Island of Puerto Rico

  • George L. Velasquez says:

    Love your articles and interest in Bamboo in Puerto Rico. Since my spouse and I purchased a 10 arce Finca in Patillas we were intrigue to find out we have plenty of Bamboo and not sure what are the restrictions in using them. We were told by a Landscaper that there severe restrictions imposed and cutting or using the plant. Is there any restrictions that I need to be aware of in the event we decide to Bamboo for some small construction projects?

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