Bamboo is a woody plant with a hollow stem that's in the grass family. When bamboo is harvested and processed, it can be used to make things like flooring, paper, and chopsticks.
If bamboo is prepared correctly, it can be eaten — you'll find bamboo shoots in many Chinese dishes, for example. Without the right preparation, though, bamboo is toxic to humans. Many products are made from bamboo in part because it's one of the fastest-growing plants in the world. Bamboo is originally from the Dutch bamboe, which in turn comes from the Portuguese bambu. The root is thought to be the Malay word samambu.