Fact Sheet

Bamboos

September 20, 2007

Golden bamboo, Phyllostachys aurea Carr. ex A. & C. Riviere and other invasive bamboos, Phyllostachys spp. and Bambusa spp.

Golden bamboo and other nonnative bamboos are perennial infestation-forming grasslike plants that grow 16 to 40 feet tall. They have joined cane stems and bushy tops of lanceolate leaves in fan clusters on grasslike stems, often golden green. Plants arise from branched rhizomes.

Stem. Solid jointed canes 1 to 6 inches in diameter. Hollow between joints. Golden to green to black. Branches wiry and grasslike from joints. Lower shoots and branches with loose papery sheaths that cover the ground when shed.

Leaves. Alternate, grasslike, often in fan clusters. Blades long and lanceolate, 3 to 10 inches long and 0.5 to 1.5 inches wide. Veins parallel. Often golden, sometimes green or variegated. Hairless except for large hairs at base of petiole, which shed with age. Sheaths encasing stem.

Flowers. Flowers very rarely.

Seeds. Seeds very rarely.

Ecology. Common around old homesites and now escaped. Colonize by rhizomes with infestations rapidly expanding after disturbance. General dieback periodically after flowering and seeding (about every 7 to 12 years) resulting in standing dead canes and new shoots.

Resemble switchcane, Arundinaria gigantea (Walt). Muhl., the only native bamboo-like cane in the South, distinguished by its lower height--sually only 6 to 8 feet--and its persistent sheaths. Also resemble giant reed, Arundo donax L.

History and use. All native to Asia. Widely planted as ornamentals and for fishing poles.

Recommended control procedures:

  • Thoroughly wet all leaves with one of the following herbicides in water with a surfactant (September or October with multiple applications to regrowth): Arsenal AC* as a 1-percent solution (4 ounces per 3-gallon mix), a glyphosate herbicide as a 2-percent solution (8 ounces per 3-gallon mix), or combination of the two herbicides.

  • Cut just above ground level and treat stems immediately with a double-strength batch of the same herbicides or herbicide mixture.

* Nontarget plants may be killed or injured by root uptake.

From: Miller, James H. 2003. Nonnative invasive plants of southern forests: a field guide for identification and control. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-62. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. 93 p.