Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Week: Phyllostachys Nigra

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch


Phyllostachys nigra stem (01/11/2011, London)

Phyllostachys nigra stem (01/11/2011, London)

Position: Full sun to partial shade

Flowering period: N/A

Soil: Well drained

Eventual Height: 4m

Eventual Spread: 2.5m

Hardiness: USDA Zones 7a – 10b

Family: Poaceae

Phyllostachys nigra is a large evergreen bamboo with a clump forming, upright habit. It’s mid green leaves are narrow and lanceolate in appearance and are around 12 cm in length. The canes (stems) are up to 2cm in diameter, grooved on alternate sides between the nodes, with usually two leafy branches at each node. This plant slowly spreads by underground rhizomes. Creamy shoots appear from the ground in May, these turn green then and mature to black through the summer months. Canes will grow up to 3m in one year.

Phyllostachys nigra, commonly known as Black Bamboo, is native to parts of China. Many bamboos flower at intervals as long as once in every 65 to 120 years. It has been used in the construction industry as far back as 960 A.D.

The etymology of the binomial name Phyllostachys is derived from the Greek phyllon ‘leaf’ and stachys ’spike’. Nigra is derived from the Greek meaning ‘black’, referring to the plants blackish cane.

Phyllostachys nigra (01/11/2011, London)

Phyllostachys nigra (01/11/2011, London)

The landscape architect may find Phyllostachys nigra useful as an attractive screening or informal hedging plant. It is also useful as a back-foil for other plants.

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

P. nigra was awarded the prestigious Royal Horticultural Societies annual Award of Garden Merit in 1993.

P. nigra prefers a humus rich, fertile  well drained soil. It will tolerate most soil types. It will not tolerate waterlogged soils.

Maintenance: This plant requires little maintenance. Spent stems may be removed to show off remaining black stems to their best. Cut back after flowering.

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