Bamboo is a very versatile plant. It is actually a type of 'grass' and yet can grow to great height (150 feet) at a rapid rate. It grows faster than any other 'tree' because it is a 'grass' and has a more efficient mechanism for photosynthesis.
In China it has been used for paper, building materials, musical instruments and even as a medicine. Perhaps most famously it is the staple diet of Giant Pandas.