Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Week: Phyllostachys Arcana

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch
Phyllostachys arcana stem (12/11/2011, Kew, London)

Phyllostachys arcana stem (12/11/2011, Kew, London)

Position: Full Sun

Flowering period: N/A

Soil: Moist, well-drained

Eventual Height: 8m

Eventual Spread: 5m

Hardiness: USDA Zones 7b – 11

Family: Poaceae

Phyllostachys arcana is an evergreen, clump forming bamboo with an upright growing habit. The leaves of the plant are cauline, 2 -3 per branch with glabrous leaf sheaths on the surface. The are lanceolate 15 centimeters long and 20 millimeters wide. The leaf blade surface is glabrous. The branches are lateral and woody. This plant spreads by underground rhizomes.

Phyllostachys arcana, commonly known as the Half Black Bamboo is native to parts of China. Many bamboo’s flower at intervals as long as once in every 65 to 120 years. This plant was collected from Chiwhwashan, Anhwei Province, China in 1926 by F. A. McClure.

The etymological root of the binomial name Phyllostachys is derived from the Greek phyllon ‘leaf’ and stachys ‘spike’. Arcana is derived from the Latin meaning ‘of boxes’ or ‘of cages’ in reference to its use in basketry and mat making.

Phyllostachys arcana (12/11/2011, Kew, London)

Phyllostachys arcana (12/11/2011, Kew, London)

P. arcana may be useful to the landscape architect as an attractive screening or informal hedging plant. It is also a useful back foil for other plants. Needs to be sheltered from cold harsh winds.

Ecologically, this plant is a huge food source for pandas (not much use in the UK)

P. arcana prefers humus rich, well drained moist soil. Can tolerate most soil pH levels. 

Maintenance: This plant requires little maintenance. 

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