Bamboo is a plant like no other. Due to its size and stature, some call it a tree. In fact, botanists say it’s a grass. It’s strong, it’s flexible, it’s lightweight, and bamboo grows remarkably fast. So astonishing, words can barely describe it. Luckily, there’s poetry, which might bring us a little closer. I’m no Robert Frost, but I love my bamboo, and I really like writing poetry. So here are a few short poems I’ve written, mostly haiku and limericks, either about or inspired by bamboo.

If you enjoy the sweet sounds of bamboo, poetry, and other positive vibrations, be sure to visit these other pages:

NOTE: This article first appeared in January 2015, most recently updated in March 2024.

Bamboo and haiku

All work and no play makes for a dull day. That’s why I set aside a little time for bamboo haiku, combining two of my favorite Asian contributions to civilization.

The multifaceted grass and the 17-syllable poetry seem to go hand-in-hand. They both soothe the soul and inspire the heart, helping to release the mind from the fetters of the daily grind. Haiku poems can take you back to nature and, at their best, elevate your consciousness to a higher plane.

Some prefer chair yoga and micro meditation. But whatever it takes to break up the monotony of the workday and keep your spirit grounded, I say go for it!

Bamboo leaves knocking
Maple leaves all aflutter
Wind out of the East

Upright, flexible
Never too full of itself
Honest like bamboo

Bamboo haiku and poetry

Pale ribbons of steam 
Envelop the aroma
Of green tea steeping

Is it invasive?
Wise gardeners must discern
Runners from clumpers

Seven syllables
Are all that separate us
From Zen mastery

Bamboo haiku tea and poetry

Provides all the great tasting
Flavors of sunshine

Many syllables
Trickle from my humble font
As the Buddha speaks

Bamboo poetry and taoism

Bamboo and limericks

There’s a certain natural affinity between bamboo and haiku that’s hard to deny. But when it comes to writing poetry, you could say that limericks are specialty. In fact, they sometimes call me the king of limericks.

So it’s no surprise that I should have a whole array of limericks about bamboo up my sustainable sleeve.

There’s a grass with some vast versatility
And none can surpass its ability
Her growth rate’s astonishing
Meanwhile admonishing
Fossil fuels into futility

When judging the tree by its fruits
The bamboo proponent imputes
That this grass’s great power
Lies not with its flower
But deep in its rhizomes and roots

Climate Change, like an explosion
Brings floods and destructive corrosion
So plant some bamboo
It can trap CO2
While also preventing erosion

There’s a grass that grows better outdoors
It makes products for very fine stores
So stop using plastic
This plant is fantastic
For energy, clothing and floors

Bamboo, like a cup, or the Tao
Is quite hollow, and if you’ll allow
It seems as if nothing
Is greater than something
It never made sense until now

Haiku and zen mastery

More poetry about Climate Change and sustainability

In that vein, here are a few more limericks exploring the unfortunate theme of Climate Change.

      Shots and Prayers
      We long to conjoin at the nexus
      In search of the force that connects us
                  Compassion’s the way
                  But you might have to pray
      Cuz they’re stockpiling ammo in Texas

      Single Use Abuse
      To make every seashore fantastic
      We need to perform something drastic
                  Like pass a few laws
                  To prohibit the straws
      That keep us all sucking on plastic

      Keystone Flops
      There’s a pipeline that must be reviewed
      Moving billions of barrels of crude
                  But energy magnates
                  Claim industry stagnates
      Unless the whole prairie gets screwed

      Present and Accountable
      Unless we find ways more sustainable
      The future will not be attainable
                  And children will ask
                  Were we up to the task?
      But our actions will not be explainable

All original poetry by Fred Hornaday. Not for reproduction without permission.

Climate Change Limerick Hornaday

Poetic contributions from the public

I received the following poem on March 1, 2024, from Freddie Catlow, my friend, colleague and CEO of Planboo, a company dedicated to high-quality, honest-to-goodness carbon removal with plant-based biochar. For full disclosure, I’m also employed by Planboo, but they are not paying me to write limericks.

The world is on fire
Who knows what to do,
One suggestion,
Let’s plant Bamboo.

With so much CO2
in our atmosphere,
With the fastest-growing plant,
You make it disappear.

Invest in bamboo,
grows up to 1 meter a day
and supports rural communities,
Thanks to your pay.

The Planboo growers app.
Measures CO2 by the tonne.
Using metadata and timestamps,
Ensures the work is done,

With photos and coordinates,
See your plants grow,
Carbon capture each year
Shared with you so you’ll know.

A natural solution,
restoring degraded land
Ending planet pollution,
employing so many hands

We need this material,
as our economies can’t stop.
Transition to a net zero world?
well, this is our crop.

So, let’s step out of the old
and into the boo
Invest in your future
and other people’s too.

Further reading

To learn more about the mystical aspects of bamboo and Eastern philosophy, check out some of these other captivating articles.