Native to: Southeast China
In 1882, Golden Bamboo was introduced into the United States, specifically Alabama. Grown for its screening abilities, golden bamboo provides visual as well as noise barriers. Golden Bamboo is fast growing and can quickly colonize an area if not contained. This plant is available for sale from online distributors and in garden centers or nurseries for use in the landscape. Spread of Golden Bamboo has occurred across the Southeastern United States from Maryland to Florida, Louisiana to Arkansas and Oregon.
In recent years, companies have started promoting various bamboo species as a crop plant however there are concerns with its agricultural use and more information can be found in Considering bamboo? Know the risks before you plant.
Habit: Perennial rhizomatous bamboo to 10 m tall with stiff erect stems to 6 cm in diameter, green turning yellowish to brown in maturity. Branches form at nodes, which have a swollen band beneath them. Lower stem crowded with nodes while the upper stem with widely spaced nodes up to 20 cm apart. Stems flattened or grooved on one side above each node. Stem leaf sheaths glabrous, deciduous, margins entire, with two tufts of hairs where sheath intersects the blade.
Leaves: 1-5 per twig, lanceolate, glabrous above, pubescent along lower midrib, 12 cm long and 2 cm wide.
Flowers: Spikelets sessile, at the ends of leaf branches, seldom flowering in Florida, but a mass flowering event takes place every 50 years or so.
Distribution in Florida: reported throughout the panhandle and NE FL and increasingly into the central and southern peninsula.
This bamboo is fast growing and will quickly spread via underground rhizomes. Despite containment efforts, the rhizomes of Golden bamboo will often find their way out of confinement to infest nearby areas. Golden bamboo will grow in sparsely wooded secondary forests and does best in full sun. It crowds out native plants and disrupts natural forest succession.
Refrain from purchasing, propagating, or planting golden bamboo due to its ability to escape into natural areas. Thoroughly clean equipment after working in infested areas.
Replace in the landscape with native plants.
Cutting and mowing can be used on small infestations or where herbicides cannot be used. Cut plants as close to the ground as possible. Repeat several times throughout the growing season as plants resprout. Monitoring and re-treatment will be necessary for several growing seasons until the energy reserves in the rhizomes are exhausted.
There are no known biological control programs for golden bamboo.
Foliar: cut mature plants, allow to regrow to 3 to 4 feet, and apply 5% glyphosate product or 2% Arsenal or Habitat. This method should be considered for large areas of bamboo where risk to non-target species is minimal. Foliar applications are most effective if canes are cut and herbicides applied to newly expanded leaves. Air temperature should be above 65°F to ensure absorption of herbicides. Glyphosate can be applied at a 5% solution in enough water to thoroughly wet all leaves. Use a low pressure and coarse spray pattern to reduce spray drift damage to non-target species. Imazapyr can be applied at a 1% solution and more effective than glyphosate. Glyphosate and imazapry are non-selective systemic herbicides that may kill non-target, partially sprayed plants. Also, imazapyr should not be sprayed if desirable trees are nearby. Retreatments are most often necessary.
Consult your local UF IFAS Extension for further assistance with management recommendations. Additional information can be found in the EDIS Publication Integrated Management of Non-Native Plants in Natural Areas of Florida.
UF IFAS Assessment of Non-Native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas
View records and images from University of Florida Herbarium