Bamboo, once referred as ‘poor man’s timber’, is now known as ‘wood and food’ or ‘plant for the planet’ in the 21st century. This wonder grass contributes to the subsistence and needs of over a billion people worldwide. Bamboo has been used for making household items, agricultural implements, food, medicine, clothing, cosmetics, fuel, vehicles and value-added products. Today, bamboo also is recognized as a valuable asset in the eradication of poverty as well as a way to help solve environmental problems. It is green gold for rural poor and green economy for mega global bamboo industries contributing more than USD 60 billion annually; it has the potential to contribute much more.

This chapter discusses bamboo as a plant, its diversity and distribution, its importance in the tradition and culture of Asian countries and its many uses including as a substitute for wood, steel and plastic in construction and furniture items. It is pulp for paper, fuel for vehicles, food and medicine for good health and presents solutions for various environment and ecological problems.