Destinations Magazine

Aurea, Aurea!

By Alternativeeden @markngaz

Phyllostachys aurea, more commonly known as the Golden Bamboo and less so as the Fishpole Bamboo is possibly the most popular and readily available Phyllostachys bamboo for sale in the UK. You're likely to see it in any garden center and even DIY sheds tend to stock them in their outdoor plants and gardening section.

Phyllostachys aurea

Phyllostachys aurea and their characteristic compressed lower nodes

We have several 'clumps' (it's a running bamboo and doesn't always remain a clump) of these in the garden and last weekend I spent some time tidying up a few of them. Some of them are meant to screen off something or look dense hence they on the whole left to do their thing. Others however are stripped to highlight their culms and their characteristic compressed nodes as well as impart a more airy feel to them and let light filter through the culms. The former are lesser maintenance while the latter requires more and will need regular pruning through the growing season.

Aurea, Aurea!

Phyllostachys aurea can be dense growing and have branches all the way down and through the entire length of the culms (good for
screening). To appreciate it's nodes you may need to strip off the lower branches

I have been productive and managed to tackle a few of them and whilst admiring my work at the end of the day I was reminded how misleading the common name 'Golden Bamboo' really is. The culms never actually become golden in a bright yellow sort of way but. The closest to it becoming one is more like pale yellow on older culms a few years down the line when they become mature and nearing the end of their life (just for those culms that is, not the entire plant).

Most of the culms remain green for most of the time. Still a nice color though but really it should be sold more with the common name Fishpole Bamboo rather than Golden Bamboo. Although admittedly the latter sounds more appealing than the former.

Saying that, there is actually a genuine golden form of the Golden Bamboo called Phyllostachys aurea 'Holochrysa' or it's synonym Phyllostachys aurea 'All Gold'

Phyllostachys aurea 'Holochrysa'

Phyllostachys aurea 'Holochrysa' - youngest culms start out green but can quickly turn bright/golden yellow.
Unlike the other one...

So why is the real golden form of the Golden Bamboo not sold readily as such, and instead the green form is?

Well the green form is more vigorous, more rewarding, propagates easily, and grows much quicker. The golden form doesn't,  it bulks up much slower...

Phyllostachys aurea 'Holochrysa'

Phyllostachys aurea 'Holochrysa'

Too slow to be commercially viable and for mass production. And besides, the species name aurea in latin means gold, hence the common stuck with it. And I don't think that can be shaken of.

But if you really want a really golden, bright yellow culmed Golden Bamboo, it is out there, just look for the right name.

Mark :-)

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