Several weeks ago a friend asked me:
"Do you know why bamboo is named bamboo?"
and I had no answer. The answer was:
"Because that's the noise it makes when it burns."
I had neither heard, read, nor experienced that. But I had no reason to doubt it. This weekend I had the opportunity to see, rather hear, for myself. I burned some brush and had some bamboo that could go on the fire. So I put a stalk on the fire and watched for a little while, then turned and did other things when all of a sudden..."BOOM!" It startled me because there's no timer counting down to zero. It just happens.
Afterward I went to look at the bamboo stalk. I saw that the entire side was split lengthwise. What I think happens is this. There are air spaces between nodes and these are separated by diaphragms which seal in the air. There is also moisture present. The heat from the fire probably causes the moisture to turn into steam and the steam builds up pressure until the walls of the bamboo can't take it anymore and explode.
Later on I did it again with another piece of bamboo. It sounded like a gunshot. I wonder if it scared the neighbors.