2.03 PHYLLOSTACHYS Siebold & Zucc.
Christopher M.A. Stapleton
Mary E. Barkworth

Plants shrublike to arborescent, in open or dense, spreading clumps or thickets; rhizomes leptomorphic. Culms 3–10(20) m tall, 3–10(15) cm thick, self-supporting, erect or nodding, diffuse or pluricespitose, rarely solitary; nodes slightly swollen; supranodal ridge prominent; internodes strongly flattened for their whole length, doubly sulcate above the branches, glabrous, smooth. Branches 2(3) per midculm node, unequal, initially erect, becoming deflexed, basal internodes not compressed. Culm leaves coriaceous, very quickly deciduous; blades usually strap-shaped and narrow, usually reflexed. Foliage leaves: sheaths deciduous; blades small to medium-sized, usually glossy and thickened, indistinctly cross veined. Inflorescences open or congested, sometimes spicate to subcapitate, fully bracteate, bracts usually bearing a small blade at the apex. Spikelets or pseudospikelets with 2 to several florets, the uppermost rudimentary. Lemmas lanceolate; paleas not exceeding the lemmas, strongly to very weakly 2-keeled, often bifid; anthers 3; styles or style branches 3. x = 12. Name from the Greek phyllos, ‘leaf’, and stachys, ‘spike’, referring to the reduced blades often seen on persistent bracts proximal to the spikelets.

Phyllostachys is a hardy, temperate, Asiatic genus of at least 50 species, native mainly to China, from Hainan to the Yellow River, and from Yunnan to Taiwan, but introduced to surrounding countries, especially Japan. Many species and a large number of cultivars have been introduced. The genus is characterized by the two unequal branches at most nodes, a result of a complete lack of internodal compression, along with the almost universal presence of buds at all nodes. Phyllostachys is the most distinct genus of hardy temperate bamboos, of enormous economic importance in eastern Asia, and increasingly valued in North America and Europe.

All species are ornamental, especially those having cultivars with colored culms. Almost all species are likely to be invasive. Rhizomes may extend as far as the height of the culms. Root barriers should generally be installed if uncontrolled spreading is not acceptable.

SELECTED REFERENCES McClure. F.A. 1957. Bamboos of the Genus Phyllostachys Under Cultivation in the United States. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Agriculture Handbook No. 114. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., U.S.A. 69 pp.; Wang, C.-P., Z.-H. Yu, and G.-H. Ye. 1980. A taxonomical study of Phyllostachys in China [parts 1 & 2]. Acta Phytotax. Sin. 18:15–19, 168–193.

 

For an interactive dichotomous key, click here; for an interactive, multientry key, click here.

 

1. Neither auricles nor fimbriae present on any culm leaves ... P. aurea
1. Auricles present on the upper culm leaves; fimbriae present on all culm leaves ... P. bambusoides

 

1. Phyllostachys aurea Carrière ex Rivière & C. Rivière
Fishpole Bamboo, Golden Bamboo

Culms to 10 m tall, 1–4 cm thick, straight; internodes glabrous, initially green, becoming gray, glaucous soon after sheath-fall, some culms in every clump with 1 to several short internodes; nodal ridges moderately prominent; sheath scars not flared, fringed with short, persistent, white hairs. Culm leaves: sheaths with a basal line of minute white hairs, otherwise glabrous, pale olive-green to rosy-buff, with a sparse scattering of small brown spots and wine-colored or pale green veins, not glaucous; auricles and fimbriae absent; ligules short, slightly rounded, ciliate; blades lanceolate, somewhat crinkled below, upper blades pendulous. Foliage leaves: auricles and fimbriae well developed or lacking; ligules very short, glabrous or sparsely ciliolate; blades 4–15 cm long, 5–23 mm wide. 2n = 48.

Phyllostachys aurea is native to China, but it is widely cultivated in temperate and subtropical regions. In North America, it grows as far north as Vancouver, British Columbia, in the west and Buffalo, New York, in the east. The young shoots are very palatable, even when raw, but the mature culms are very hard when dried. They are sometimes used for fishpoles. This species differs from other species of Phyllostachys, including those with brighter yellow culms, in having a raised collar below the nodes and irregularly com-pressed basal culm nodes.

 

2. Phyllostachys bambusoides Siebold & Zucc.
Giant Timber Bamboo, Madake

Culms to 22 m tall and 15 cm thick, erect or leaning towards the light, base sinuous in some cultivars; internodes glabrous, usually green, in cultivars golden yellow, or with yellow and green stripes, lustrous; nodal ridges usually prominent (scarcely discernible in ‘Crookstem’ forms); sheath scars thin, not strongly flared, glabrous. Culm leaves: sheaths glabrous or pubescent, greenish to ruddy-buff, more or less densely dark-brown-spotted; auricles absent from the basal sheaths, narrow to broadly ovate or falcate on the upper sheaths; fimbriae greenish, crinkled; ligules rounded and ciliolate to truncate and ciliate with coarse hairs; blades short, lanceolate, reflexed and crinkled on the lower leaves, those above longer and recurved, green or variously striped. Foliage leaves: auricles and fimbriae usually well developed; ligules well developed; blades to 20 cm long and 3.2 cm wide, usually puberulent to subglabrous. 2n = 48.

Phyllostachys bambusoides, a widely cultivated species, is hardy to -17°C. Several cultivars are available, differing in the color of their culms and leaves.