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"What do Bamboo forests look like?" Topic

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Glengarry528 May 2015 7:17 p.m. PST

I was given a bunch of plastic bamboo (and I ordered more) and I was wondering if I was basing them correctly. In my imagination bamboo forests are "clumps", so tightly packed with bamboo they are all but impassible to move through. However, I was watching "Ultra Q", of all things, a Japanese sci-fi TV series from the 1960's. In one episode there was a rural scene that seemed to be a forest of widely spaced bamboo. Is this natural or cultivated? (I am using my bamboo models for 15mm and 28mm 16th Japan and a bit of 28mm "Darkest Africa"). Thank you.

Mako1128 May 2015 7:27 p.m. PST

Pretty much bamboo, with leafy tops.

The bamboo can get pretty thick. Since it grows so fast, and is so strong, they're using it as construction material now.

Try Google Images.

Dr Mathias Fezian28 May 2015 7:49 p.m. PST

I think bamboo groves go through stages, similar to many other forests- younger groves are thick, packed, and dense until the canopy is formed, then vegetation thins out on the 'floor' as light is blocked by the towering bamboo.

There's a lot of variety and species though so there's always exceptions.

Since you mentioned Africa there's an interesting battle between the Congo Free State and 'Arab' slavers in a thick bamboo forest. If I recall correctly columns from each force had somehow managed to unknowingly run parallel with each other, so that both armies had a column penned by the other force :)

Sundance28 May 2015 7:52 p.m. PST

From watching a lot of old samurai movies, I think Dr. Mathias has it right.

Skeptic28 May 2015 7:56 p.m. PST

And judging from some that I saw in China, the more open ones with dense canopies and almost no undergrowth tend to feature ground that is covered by fallen bamboo leaves.

Personal logo Narratio Supporting Member of TMP28 May 2015 8:01 p.m. PST

I've got Bamboo running riot at my place back in Thailand, but it's new growth, less than 50 years.

The things are like banana trees. As it grows it throws a sideways stalk which then launches upwards. Give them a couple of years and you literally cannot see through the clump of vertical wood.

The biggest clumps I've seen, occupied by a single pod of trees are about 2M around. At that point they thin out quickly as they're absorbing ground water and running out of sunlight. So we ended up with clumps of 12 to 20 stalks, some 50 to 80mm wide, all spaced a stalks width apart.

The clumps are separated by about 3 to 4M but that space is occupied by lesser stalks of bamboo flung out buy these clumps. I believe Mathias is right, give it another couple of hundred years and the smaller stalks will have stunted, been trampled by buffalo or elephant so there will be gaps. It's a Bleeped text to try and move through at the moment though.

raylev328 May 2015 8:12 p.m. PST

Here ya' go…a picture is worth a thousand posts.


Pedrobear28 May 2015 9:50 p.m. PST

As far as I can tell from Google, they are teaming with tourists, Chinese swordsmen or pandas…





A brown, leaf-covered floor seems to be the norm:


jwebster Supporting Member of TMP28 May 2015 10:55 p.m. PST

There are different species – some give the woods (with or without people in strange clothing) as in Pedrobear's pictures and some that clump

Definitely seen forest pictures from Japan – don't know whether they have clumpy stuff as well

The plastic bamboo looks good – I have some and may get around to building something with it one day


Glengarry528 May 2015 11:17 p.m. PST

Thanks all!

setsuko29 May 2015 12:06 a.m. PST

My experience of bamboo forests is that you often have a thick "border" where it starts, which can be almost impossible to go through. Then, once inside, it will start to space out, as in the pictures above.

The top of the bamboo will actually be quite thick and "wavy", which is the hardest part to recreate for tabletop gaming IMHO.

The ground can be either covered with undergrowth or be pretty barren, as in the pictures above.

GarrisonMiniatures29 May 2015 1:58 a.m. PST
Sir Mumsy29 May 2015 4:33 a.m. PST

Glengarry5, where did you purchase your bamboo? I am currently using ones from an aquarium store, but I have been looking for more realistic looking bamboo for my Ronin game. Thanks.

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP29 May 2015 6:47 a.m. PST

I got mine off of eBay from a Chinese company (can't recall which one however). Here are some search returns:



Rdfraf Supporting Member of TMP29 May 2015 7:02 a.m. PST



Here's how I did mine. I got mine in China. I bought some on eBay too but the ones I got in China are nicer as they are vari-colored, cast with with olive green colored stalk becoming greener towards the leaves while the ones I got on eBay were just olive green throughout.

Darkest Star Games Sponsoring Member of TMP29 May 2015 7:06 a.m. PST

Depends upon the species. Some of the SEA varieties have thorns. Pictures I have seen from Vietnam show some forests that are thick canopied, but widely spaced large diameter stalks, and others (including some my father operated in out in western III Corps) are very thick, with lots of fallen stalks which you sometimes have to crawl through, getting hung up on spits and thorns. The floor can be very loud too, with dried leaves crunching, even after rains.

My advise: set them up as to the particular area you are attempting to emulate, with caveats to being able to game inside them. For my Vietnam games I have made large thick clumps (impassible under normal combat conditions, but possible lager sites for SOG or LRRP teams) and smaller clumps that can be scattered around to get the idea of it all being a more open forest. I also put down dirt or ballast to show trails or areas of easy movement, and dark flocking to show areas that is more difficult movement due to ground cover. YMMV.

Dan Cyr29 May 2015 9:12 a.m. PST

Nice discussion. Just bought 300 miniature trees, thanks for the information.


Glengarry529 May 2015 12:00 p.m. PST

I got mine from here:

cwlinsj29 May 2015 4:42 p.m. PST

I do mine like Rdfraf, but his look much better.

I get mine from the same source off of eBay.

Y'all have to remember that the open bamboo forests you see in movies are modern day managed forests. They are not wild, like the ones you'd see 500-600 years ago.

Bigger species of bamboo can grow over 21' a year, so tall forests don't have to be very old.

Sir Mumsy29 May 2015 4:58 p.m. PST

Thank you Glengarry5.

HistoryPhD30 May 2015 3:34 p.m. PST

Most rural Vietnamese villages will have a stand of golden bamboo planted at the side of all roads where they enter the village. It's considered to bring good luck to the residents.

Skeptic31 May 2015 6:12 a.m. PST

Why would bamboo forests have been wilder 500-600 years ago?

pigasuspig31 May 2015 5:12 p.m. PST

Have been through tons of bamboo forests in Eastern China, both in conservation areas and in villages. In both cases, where there is bamboo, there's basically nothing else. Just a carpet of bamboo leaves. There will usually be a clear boundary where the bamboo stops and the trees (and undergrowth) begin.

Cultivated bamboo looks like wild bamboo, except the larger stalks may be marked with their owner's name or something similar.

Bamboo in tourist areas or well-traveled roadsides is likely to be marked with carved names and graffiti. Not sure how ancient this practice is.

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