Bill Johnson (Bambusa vulgaris)


Common bamboo - Bambusa vulgaris Schrad. ex J.C. Wendl.
Golden bamboo - Phyllostachys aurea Carr. ex A.& C. Rivière
Arrow bamboo - Pseudosasa japonica (Sieb. & Zucc. ex Steud.) Makino ex Nakai
Grass family (Poaceae)

Origin: Asia

Bamboos are woody reed-like grasses that have a shrubby growth habit. The three species featured here are popular ornamentals that were introduced and planted widely but other species and cultivars are also available in the nursery trade. These species have been reported by numerous sources as being invasive in natural areas (see below). Giant or switch cane (Arundinaria gigantea) is the only species of bamboo native to the U.S. It is found throughout the Southeast just into southern Maryland and is about the size of Pseudosasa.

Distribution and Habitat
These species of bamboo have been reported to be invasive in the mid-Atlantic and Southeast as well as some sites in the western and southwestern U.S. Infestations are commonly associated with new and very old residences from which they’ve escaped.

Ecological Threat
Bamboos can form very dense single-species thickets that displace native plant species and create dense shade that makes it difficult for seedlings of native species to survive. Once established, they can be very difficult to eradicate.

Description and Biology

Bill Johnson (Phyllostachys aurea)

Prevention and Control
Do not plant exotic bamboos. While manual control of bamboo through cutting and digging out of rhizomes is possible, it is extremely labor intensive and will need to be continued over a long time to ensure eradication. Control with herbicides is more practical and can be very effective (see Control Options).

Native Alternatives
Within its native range in the eastern U.S., giant reed (Arundinaria gigantea) is a good alternative to consider.


Return to the Table of Contents | Download a PDF of Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas

Comments, suggestions, and questions about the website should be directed to the webmaster.
Last updated:11-Nov-2010