Teak and bamboo both have a long history of use by humans for a variety of purposes. Teak wood remains strong and in good repair in structures built hundreds of years ago. Bamboo plays an important part in the lives of people in Asia today, as it has for centuries.

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Teak has a prominent place in boat building.

Species

The genus containing teak trees, Tectona, has only three species, while bamboo refers to about 1,200 different species of plants in dozens of genera. The Tectona grandis, the most prominent teak species and the plant most people have in mind when they use the word teak, possesses significant commercial value. The other two species have little economic importance. Bamboo grows throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of the world, with some types thriving in the warmer temperate areas. Most bamboo species originated in China and southeast Asia.

Description

The common teak, Tetona grandis, reaches between 60 to 100 feet, with trees in the wild growing taller than cultivated trees. The leaves, about 18 inches long and 9 inches wide, have a coarse texture, while the white flowers produce a pleasing aroma. The numerous species of bamboo come in a variety of sizes, ranging from dwarf types reaching only 1 foot high to species that grow 130 feet tall. Bamboo grows at a rapid rate, with some species extending as much as 12 inches per day.

Uses

Teak has a prominent place in the furniture industry, as it works well and has good durability. The wood contains oils and resins that protect it from moisture, making it an excellent choice for outdoor furniture and boatbuilding. Bamboo has a wide range of commercial and decorative uses, including flooring, furniture and paper pulp. Some gardeners grow certain species of bamboo as ornamentals or privacy screens. Both species have been used in traditional medicine historically, as well.

Tree and Grass

Teak is a tree, while bamboo, despite having a woody stem, belongs to the grass family. Despite its classification as a grass, some bamboo species attain heights close to those of the tallest teak trees. Teak, a deciduous tree, drops its leaves at the end of the growing season. Bamboo, an evergreen, keep its foliage throughout the year.