Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Phyllostachys aurea
(golden bamboo)

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Datasheet

Phyllostachys aurea (golden bamboo)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 08 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Phyllostachys aurea
  • Preferred Common Name
  • golden bamboo
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Monocotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • P.aurea is a highly invasive running bamboo native to Southeast China but is now widespread globally and especially problematic in Australia and North America. This woody, rhizomatous perennial grass r...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Phyllostachys aurea (fish-pole bamboo, golden bamboo); habit. Often planted but usually regretted. It would be one of the worst weeds in the USA, except it seldom, if ever, produces seed. Georgia, USA.
TitleHabit
CaptionPhyllostachys aurea (fish-pole bamboo, golden bamboo); habit. Often planted but usually regretted. It would be one of the worst weeds in the USA, except it seldom, if ever, produces seed. Georgia, USA.
Copyright©James R. Allison/Georgia Department of Natural Resources/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Phyllostachys aurea (fish-pole bamboo, golden bamboo); habit. Often planted but usually regretted. It would be one of the worst weeds in the USA, except it seldom, if ever, produces seed. Georgia, USA.
HabitPhyllostachys aurea (fish-pole bamboo, golden bamboo); habit. Often planted but usually regretted. It would be one of the worst weeds in the USA, except it seldom, if ever, produces seed. Georgia, USA.©James R. Allison/Georgia Department of Natural Resources/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Phyllostachys aurea (fish-pole bamboo, golden bamboo); stems. USA. September 2003.
TitleStems
CaptionPhyllostachys aurea (fish-pole bamboo, golden bamboo); stems. USA. September 2003.
Copyright©Chuck Bargeron-2003/University of Georgia/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Phyllostachys aurea (fish-pole bamboo, golden bamboo); stems. USA. September 2003.
StemsPhyllostachys aurea (fish-pole bamboo, golden bamboo); stems. USA. September 2003.©Chuck Bargeron-2003/University of Georgia/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Phyllostachys aurea (fish-pole bamboo, golden bamboo); stem and node details. USA. September 2003.
TitleStem and nodes
CaptionPhyllostachys aurea (fish-pole bamboo, golden bamboo); stem and node details. USA. September 2003.
Copyright©Chuck Bargeron-2003/University of Georgia/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Phyllostachys aurea (fish-pole bamboo, golden bamboo); stem and node details. USA. September 2003.
Stem and nodesPhyllostachys aurea (fish-pole bamboo, golden bamboo); stem and node details. USA. September 2003.©Chuck Bargeron-2003/University of Georgia/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Phyllostachys aurea (fish-pole bamboo, golden bamboo); compressed internodes of golden bamboo on some random canes.
TitleCompressed internodes
CaptionPhyllostachys aurea (fish-pole bamboo, golden bamboo); compressed internodes of golden bamboo on some random canes.
Copyright©Caryn Rickel/Institute of Invasive Bamboo Research
Phyllostachys aurea (fish-pole bamboo, golden bamboo); compressed internodes of golden bamboo on some random canes.
Compressed internodesPhyllostachys aurea (fish-pole bamboo, golden bamboo); compressed internodes of golden bamboo on some random canes.©Caryn Rickel/Institute of Invasive Bamboo Research
Phyllostachys aurea (fish-pole bamboo, golden bamboo); foliage. USA.
TitleFoliage
CaptionPhyllostachys aurea (fish-pole bamboo, golden bamboo); foliage. USA.
Copyright©James H. Miller/USDA Forest Service/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Phyllostachys aurea (fish-pole bamboo, golden bamboo); foliage. USA.
FoliagePhyllostachys aurea (fish-pole bamboo, golden bamboo); foliage. USA.©James H. Miller/USDA Forest Service/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Phyllostachys aurea (fish-pole bamboo, golden bamboo); infestation. Note person for scale. Georgia, USA. July 2005.
TitleInfestation
CaptionPhyllostachys aurea (fish-pole bamboo, golden bamboo); infestation. Note person for scale. Georgia, USA. July 2005.
Copyright©David J. Moorhead-2005/University of Georgia/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Phyllostachys aurea (fish-pole bamboo, golden bamboo); infestation. Note person for scale. Georgia, USA. July 2005.
InfestationPhyllostachys aurea (fish-pole bamboo, golden bamboo); infestation. Note person for scale. Georgia, USA. July 2005.©David J. Moorhead-2005/University of Georgia/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Phyllostachys aurea (fish-pole bamboo, golden bamboo); invasive habit.
TitleInvasive habit
CaptionPhyllostachys aurea (fish-pole bamboo, golden bamboo); invasive habit.
Copyright©Caryn Rickel/Institute of Invasive Bamboo Research
Phyllostachys aurea (fish-pole bamboo, golden bamboo); invasive habit.
Invasive habitPhyllostachys aurea (fish-pole bamboo, golden bamboo); invasive habit.©Caryn Rickel/Institute of Invasive Bamboo Research

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Phyllostachys aurea Carrière ex. Rivière & C. Rivière

Preferred Common Name

  • golden bamboo

Other Scientific Names

  • Phyllostachys bambusoides var. aurea (Carrière ex. Rivière & C.Rivière) Makino
  • Phyllostachys meyeri var. aurea (Carrière ex. Rivière & C.Rivière) Pilipenko
  • Phyllostachys reticulata var. aurea (Carrière ex. Rivière & C.Rivière) Makino

International Common Names

  • English: fish-pole bamboo
  • Spanish: bamboo amarillo; bambú amarillo

Local Common Names

  • Brazil: bambú japonsê; bambu-amarelo; bambu-brasileiro; bambu-mirim
  • China: ren mian zhu
  • Cuba: bambucito
  • France: bamboo jaune
  • Indonesia: pring uncue
  • Japan: hotei-chiku
  • Vietnam: trus vafng

EPPO code

  • PLLAR (Phyllostachys aurea)

Summary of Invasiveness

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P.aurea is a highly invasive running bamboo native to Southeast China but is now widespread globally and especially problematic in Australia and North America. This woody, rhizomatous perennial grass rapidly forms a dense monoculture, suffocating other native plants and altering the entire ecosystem. As well as having detrimental effects on the environment this bamboo may also damage property and pose as a potential health threat from its harbouring of a fungus responsible for the Histoplasmosis disease. Invasive bamboos are among the fastest growing plants on Earth and one infestation of P. aurea can spread as far as 9.3 miles. The spread is rapid in all directions, increasing each successive year (Gucker, 2009; Rickel, 2012).

It is listed invasive in Australia and Hawaii, and has naturalized or is listed invasive in 273 counties in the USA, including the mid-Atlantic region of the USA, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Georgia. It is reported to be fully naturalized in New Zealand, with infestations forming dense stands, and some invading national parks (Edgar and Connor, 2000; USDA-APHIS, 2012). It has been recorded as High Risk in several Weed Risk Assessments (USDA-APHIS, 2012; NYPRISM, 2013; PIER, 2016) and following New York State Department of Environmental Conservation listing of the species as invasive it has banned all future sales of Paurea (New York State DEC, 2014).

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Monocotyledonae
  •                     Order: Cyperales
  •                         Family: Poaceae
  •                             Genus: Phyllostachys
  •                                 Species: Phyllostachys aurea

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Phyllostachys aurea is an accepted species of the Poaceae family, a member of the grass family (The Plant List, 2013). There are approximately 76 species within the genus Phyllostachys (Ohrnberger, 1999). The Plant List (2013) suggests there are 20 recorded synonyms for P.aurea.

The Poaceae family consists of 7 to 10 subfamilies, among them the subfamily Bambusoideae which includes both woody and herbaceaous bamboos with approximately 1575 species (Ohrnberger, 1999).

P. aurea is commonly referred to as golden bamboo. The specific epithet aurea, refers to the golden colour of old culms and was used by Carrière and later used by A.& C. Rivière to name this species (Ohrnberger, 1999).

Description

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P. aurea is a woody, rhizomatous perennial grass, which grows to form a dense bamboo forest. The main stem is called a culm. The culm is made up of jointed segments. The rings are called nodes. The sections between the nodes or rings are called internodes.

Golden bamboo has distinct swollen internodes, bunched up together at the bottom of some random canes. This unique trait is useful for certainty in the ID of golden bamboo (McClure, 1957). Most canes will have uniformly spaced sections (internodes) as the compressed internode trait only occurs on some canes. Golden bamboo has a slight cupped flare where the sections meet at the nodes (rings). In Japan, the compressed swollen internodes are referred to as deformed stems, and thought to be a reason for the cultivation of the species P. aurea, due to the curiosity of the deformed swollen internodes.

A pure planting of P. aurea can be identified with ease and certainty by the culms. Stems and branches are green when plants are young but turn golden yellow with age. Branches occur in uneven pairs with a groove called a sulcus (Arnold Arboretum, 1946; Gucker, 2009). They can grow to a maximum height of 11.8 m tall and are tolerant of colder temperatures (reportedly up to -20°C) (Arnold Arboretum, 1946; Young and Haun, 1961; Gucker, 2009; EDDMapS, 2016). The diameter of the culms can reach 15 cm but are usually 9 cm or less depending on the age of the stand. Each year the culms will emerge thicker (Gucker, 2009). The length of the rhizomes increases each successive year. In a mature stand the rhizomes may spread 4-7.6 m underground each year (Young and Haun, 1961). Spread is rapid in all directions by the interconnected dense underground rhizome system. A single golden bamboo clump can produce rhizomes spreading 9.3 miles in its lifetime (Gucker, 2009).

P. aurea is an evergreen, even though leaves change each year later in the spring. The old leaves fall off and are gradually replaced with new leaves (McClure, 1957).

Flowers and seeds are rarely produced. Although spreading by seed is unlikely, it cannot be ruled out completely (USDA-APHIS, 2012). 

Plant Type

Top of page Grass / sedge
Perennial
Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated
Woody

Distribution

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Native to Southeast China P. aurea has been in cultivation for some time in Japan, Europe and South America (McClure, 1957). It is now widely distributed, especially in North America, with reports as far north as Vancouver and British Columbia in Canada. It has escaped cultivation in Hawaii and Oahu (Gucker, 2009) and is documented as established in Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Ecuador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Spain, the UK and Madagascar (USDA-APHIS, 2012). 

P. aurea is listed invasive in Australia, Hawaii, and has naturalized or is listed invasive in 273 counties in the USA, including the mid-Atlantic region of the USA, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Georgia. It is reported to be fully naturalizing in New Zealand, with infestations forming dense stands, and some invading national parks (USDA APHIS, 2012). 

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasivePlantedReferenceNotes

Asia

ChinaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-FujianPresentNative Not invasive Natural Ohrnberger, 1999
-Hong KongPresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2016
-ZhejiangPresentNative Not invasive Natural Ohrnberger, 1999
JapanPresentNativeOviedo Prieto et al., 2012
-Bonin IslandPresentIntroducedPIER, 2016
TaiwanPresentIntroduced Not invasive Planted Ohrnberger, 1999

Africa

MadagascarPresentIntroducedUSDA-APHIS, 2012

North America

CanadaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-British ColumbiaPresentIntroducedGucker, 2009
MexicoPresentIntroducedUSDA-APHIS, 2012
USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-AlabamaPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-APHIS, 2012
-ArkansasPresentIntroduced Invasive EDDMapS, 2016
-CaliforniaPresentIntroduced Invasive EDDMapS, 2016; PIER, 2016
-ConnecticutPresentIntroduced Invasive EDDMapS, 2016
-DelawarePresentIntroduced Invasive EDDMapS, 2016
-FloridaPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-APHIS, 2012
-GeorgiaPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-APHIS, 2012
-HawaiiWidespreadIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2016
-KentuckyPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-NRCS, 2016
-LouisianaPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-APHIS, 2012
-MarylandPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-APHIS, 2012
-MinnesotaPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-APHIS, 2012
-MississippiPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-NRCS, 2016
-MissouriPresentIntroduced Invasive EDDMapS, 2016
-New MexicoPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-APHIS, 2012
-New YorkPresentIntroduced Invasive NYPRISM, 2013
-North CarolinaPresentIntroduced Invasive EDDMapS, 2016
-OklahomaPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-APHIS, 2012
-OregonPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2016
-PennsylvaniaPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-APHIS, 2012
-South CarolinaPresentIntroduced Invasive EDDMapS, 2016
-TennesseePresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-NRCS, 2016
-TexasWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Texasinvasives, 2016
-VirginiaPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-APHIS, 2012
-West VirginiaPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-APHIS, 2012

Central America and Caribbean

Costa RicaPresentIntroducedUSDA-APHIS, 2012
CubaPresentIntroduced Invasive Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012; USDA-APHIS, 2012
HondurasPresentIntroducedUSDA-APHIS, 2012

South America

ArgentinaPresentIntroducedUSDA-APHIS, 2012
BoliviaPresentIntroducedUSDA-APHIS, 2012
BrazilPresentIntroduced Planted USDA-APHIS, 2012
EcuadorPresentIntroducedUSDA-APHIS, 2012
-Galapagos IslandsPresentIntroducedPIER, 2016Santa Cruz Island

Europe

FrancePresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2016La Reunion Island
SpainPresentIntroducedUSDA-APHIS, 2012
UKPresentIntroducedUSDA-APHIS, 2012

Oceania

AustraliaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-New South WalesWidespreadIntroduced1962 Invasive USDA-NRCS, 2016
-QueenslandPresentIntroduced1984 Invasive AVH, 2016; PIER, 2016
-Western AustraliaPresentIntroduced2003AVH, 2016Perth, edge of lake by drain
New ZealandWidespreadIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2016Raoul Island

History of Introduction and Spread

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P. aurea, commonly known as golden bamboo, is a giant temperate timber bamboo native to Southeast China. It was the first species of Phyllostachys to be successfully introduced into the USA by George H. Todd, a grower at Montgomery in 1882. Mature culms were used for fishing poles and walking sticks (Young and Haun, 1961).

Additional introductions into the USA occurred in 1914 by the United States Department of Agriculture with plants from the Centro Agricola at Bahia, Brazil obtained through V.A.Argolla Ferrao. These were under Plant Introduction No. 38919.

Some introductions into the USA were obtained from seeds from L'Hermitage, Mons, Belgium. These were from Jean Houzeau de Lehaie and were under Plant Introduction No. 55975. Plants were also obtained from the Royal Botanic Garden Kew, England, Plant Introduction No. 75153.

Earlier introductions of this species were made by private individuals, like George H. Todd in Montgomery, Alabama, who planted a 10 acre plot (McClure, 1957).

In many areas extensive infestations have been documented with rapid spread and reported as highly detrimental (EDDMapS, 2016).

A clone covering one acre was documented as naturalizing on a steep hillside in Kailua, Oahu, Hawaii. The infestation originally planted as a single ornamental planting has now spread to invade an entire hillside (Gucker, 2009). The footprint of P. aurea is astonishing as the speed of invasion increases each successive year, with the stage of invasion increasing dramatically over time (Rickel, 2012).

Introductions

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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Australia  pre 1962 Horticulture (pathway cause) Yes AVH (2016); USDA-NRCS (2016); Weeds of Australia (2016) Documented as extremely invasive, posing substantial threat to the environment
Hawaii China 1882 Horticulture (pathway cause) Yes PIER (2016)
USA China 1882 Horticulture (pathway cause) Yes USDA-APHIS (2012) Naturalized – infestations escaping and invasive

Risk of Introduction

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P. aurea is a high risk alien invader and recorded as High Risk in the USDA-APHIS Weed Risk Assessment of July 2012 (USDA-APHIS, 2012).

Running bamboos are of great concern due to their rapid spread by an underground rhizome system, and the possibility of naturalization (Smith and Mack, 2012).

There is also a high risk potential for naturalization through improper rhizome disposal, and rhizome dispersal by water. Documentation shows infestations are spreading offsite without the aid of human cultivation by water (USDA-APHIS, 2012; Bugwood Presentations, 2014).

Also of great concern is the high volume of online sales, with rhizomes being shipped all over the Internet to the unsuspecting public. In many cases, online shipping is without a plant name shown, and easily bypasses all international plant regulation laws (Rickel, 2012). 

Habitat

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Infestations occur in undisturbed habitats including along stream edges and riparian corridors (Smith and Mack, 2012). It thrives in full sun, but also tolerates shade, spreading into forests.

P. aurea spreads more rapidly in moist soils (USDA-APHIS, 2012).

 

Habitat List

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CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial-managed
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial-natural/semi-natural
Natural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Present, no further details Natural
Wetlands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Wetlands Present, no further details Natural

Hosts/Species Affected

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Continual thick leaf litter within the stand of bamboo along with the dense shade in the bamboo stand prohibits the growth of other species of plants. It is also possible that P. aurea has allelopathic effects (USDA-APHIS, 2012).

Biology and Ecology

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Reproductive Biology

P. aurea reproduces vegetatively by rhizomes. It is capable of producing seeds but at very long intervals and the rarity of flowering makes reproduction by seed unlikely (USDA-APHIS, 2012).

Bamboo flowers are wind pollinated. There are contradictory reports that bamboo dies after flowering. Some reports suggest the rhizomes are capable of resprouting (Gucker, 2009).

Physiology and Phenology

P. aurea spreads rapidly by underground rhizomes each year followed by new culms (stems) each spring from the previous years rhizome spread. Spread is rapid in all directions (Gucker, 2009).

New culms emerge in the spring and reach their mature height in a few short weeks. Each successive year the culms emerge thicker, with underground rhizomes that rapidly spread faster each successive year.

Longevity

P. aurea is long lived. Documentation and field work have shown the infestation increases over time to cover acres (EDDMapS, 2016). A single clump of golden bamboo can produce up to 9.3 miles of stems in its lifetime, all interconnected as one organism (Gucker, 2009).

Population Size and Structure

Dense stands can potentially invade acres of land, forming a monoculture and suffocating native vegetation as the rhizomes spread underground further each year (USDA-APHIS, 2012).

Environmental Requirements

P. aurea is a cold hardy temperate running bamboo tolerating temperatures as low as -15°C and by some reports -20°C (Young and Haun, 1961; Gucker, 2009; EDDMapS, 2016).

In China, golden bamboo stands grow at elevations up to 1000 m in the southeast. In the southwest region of China, golden bamboo stands grow at elevations up to 2000 m (Gucker, 2009). 

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
30 20 0 2000

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) -20
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 10 30
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 15 35
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) -15 20

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration04number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall1000mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

Top of page Summer
Uniform

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • light
  • medium

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal

Cases of spread by water have been documented in Connecticut (Bugwood Presentations, 2014) and there is the potential for rhizome fragments to be washed downstream along riparian corridors (USDA-APHIS, 2012).

Although spreading by seed is unlikely as flowers and seeds are rarely produced it cannot be ruled out completely (USDA-APHIS, 2012).

Accidental Introduction

The spread of P. aurea along roadsides by plows moving rhizomes has been documented. Observation has shown loose rhizome fragments and rhizomes growing up along roadsides where plows could potentially transport the rhizome spreading the bamboo (USDA-APHIS, 2012).

Improper disposal of the rhizomes is common, causing new bamboo infestations to start. Spread can occur from improper dumping of yard waste into natural areas (USDA-APHIS, 2012).

Intentional Introduction

P. aurea has been widely introduced as an ornamental in both temperate and tropical areas of the world (Gucker, 2009). P. aurea has also been introduced for making fishing poles, walking sticks, umbrella and fan handles and pipe stems (McClure, 1957). 

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
DisturbanceAccidental movement of rhizome contaminated soil Yes Yes USDA-APHIS, 2012
Garden waste disposalAccidental disposal of rhizomes by dumping yard waste Yes Yes USDA-APHIS, 2012
HorticultureDeliberately selling rhizomes online or promoted as an ornamental Yes Yes Gucker, 2009; Rickel, 2012
Landscape improvementSold as an ornamental Yes Yes Gucker, 2009
Nursery tradeSold as an ornamental Yes Gucker, 2009
Ornamental purposes Yes Yes Gucker, 2009
People sharing resourcesObservation of problem infestations - origin Yes Yes EDDMapS, 2016

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
MailWidely sold online to the unsuspecting public Yes Yes Rickel, 2012
WaterPotential to spread by water Yes Yes USDA-APHIS, 2012

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Economic/livelihood Negative
Environment (generally) Negative
Human health Negative

Economic Impact

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P. aurea has a negative impact on property values. Numerous property appraisals have shown a reduced market value for a property that has the presence of Phyllostachys invasive running bamboo (Haussler, 2012; Brown, 2016).

Properties infested with Phyllostachys running bamboos often have a stigmatized market value and are very hard to sell (Sutton, 2016). Eradication is difficult and results in expensive bamboo abatement measures including the repeat use of pesticides.

A recent report of one bamboo eradication project at the historical Yorktown Battlefield is costing approximately $78,000 (Riddle, 2016).

Environmental Impact

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Impact on Habitats

P. aurea is highly detrimental to the environment and can alter an entire native ecosystem through its rapid formation of dense stands. It poses a threat to many natural areas, including parks and conservation land (USDA-APHIS, 2012; EDDMapS, 2016).

Impact on Biodiversity

Continual thick leaf litter within the stand of bamboo along with the dense shade in the bamboo stand prohibits the growth of other species of plants. The formation of monocultures in forests and riparian corridors completely excludes other native vegetation and over time the bamboo will eventually form a dense forest (Young and Haun, 1961USDA-APHIS, 2012; EDDMapS, 2016).It is also possible that P. aurea has allelopathic effects (USDA-APHIS, 2012).

P. aurea is listed as invasive in Australia and Hawaii, and has naturalized or is listed as invasive in 273 counties in the USA, including the mid-Atlantic region of the USA, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Georgia. It is reported to be fully naturalizing in New Zealand, with infestations forming dense stands, and some invading national parks (USDA-APHIS, 2012). 

Social Impact

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P. aurea can have negative impacts on property, including damage to driveways and sidewalks (USDA-APHIS, 2012).

Many laws and regulations have been passed to protect property and stop the continual nuisance. This list is growing as people are becoming more aware of the invasiveness of running bamboo (Rickel, 2014).

P. aurea infestations may pose a serious indirect risk to human health as blackbird and starling species often roost in Phyllostachys invasive bamboos and can serve as vectors for the human respiratory disease, Histoplasmosis (Glahn et al., 1994; Miller, 2013). The microscopic fungus, Histoplasmacapsulatum, is found where bird droppings accumulate within the bamboo infestation. This fungus produces airborne fungal spores which when inhaled can cause the disease Histoplasmosis. The disease produces very few symptoms, but can have serious health effects (Lenhardt, 2004; Cleveland Clinic, 2016; University of Maryland Medical Center, 2016).

When the blackbirds roost repeatedly for several years the bamboo may become an indirect threat to humans. The soil becomes contaminated with the spores of the fungus that cause histoplasmosis in humans. Workers removing bamboo should wear a respirator, or dust masks and take precautions to avoid inhaling the spores (Flynt and Glahn, 1993; Glahn et al., 1994).

Several cases have been reported recently, including two in Arkansas, USA. Such cases often involve burning of bamboo, which had been previously used as a blackbird roost. In 2011, a bamboo bonfire affected 18 people, where 7 individuals were confirmed to have contracted the disease and 11 others likely to have contracted the disease (Haselow et al., 2014). Another similar story saw two children infected and transferred to the Arkansas Children’s Hospital. It was later found that others who attended the same gathering were also ill with the same symptoms (Haselow et al., 2014). In 1980, another histoplasmosis case relating to bamboo was reported in Louisiana. Workers were clearing a large bamboo infestation that was heavily contaminated with blackbird faeces. All 6 workers became ill (Haselow et al., 2014).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Gregarious
  • Reproduces asexually
Impact outcomes
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Monoculture formation
  • Negatively impacts forestry
  • Negatively impacts human health
  • Negatively impacts livelihoods
  • Threat to/ loss of endangered species
  • Negatively impacts animal/plant collections
Impact mechanisms
  • Allelopathic
  • Competition - shading
  • Competition
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally illegally
  • Difficult/costly to control

Uses List

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General

  • Botanical garden/zoo

Materials

  • Carved material

Ornamental

  • garden plant

Wood Products

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Sawn or hewn building timbers

  • For light construction

Woodware

  • Industrial and domestic woodware
  • Sports equipment
  • Tool handles

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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P. aurea looks very similar in appearance to Phyllostachys aureosulcata. This confusion has led to many misidentifications, often with P. aureosulcata being incorrectly identified as P. aurea. However there are some differences which can be used to separate the two species. P. aureosulcata has a yellow groove (called a sulcus) on every other section (called an internode) of the young shoots. It also has a rough sand papery feel when rubbing a hand up and down the canes, and some random culms that occasionally have a crook or zigzag growth pattern. These traits are not found in P. aurea.

In contrast, P. aurea will have compressed internodes bunched together and distorted. This characteristic trait will appear on a few random lower canes and is unique to P. aurea. This trait has often been used to correctly identify the bamboo, for example, an infestation that naturalized in Illinios was originally reported as P. aurea, and later was found to be P. aureosulcata (Gucker, 2009).

P. aurea is slightly less cold tolerant than P. aureosulcata, otherwise they behave similarly as do all Phyllostachys invasive bamboos, which spread rapidly forming a dense monoculture choking off all native vegetation (USDA-APHIS, 2012). 

Prevention and Control

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Prevention

The best prevention is to prohibit the planting of Phyllostachys invasive running bamboos (Connecticut General Assembly, 2014).

Rapid Response

Rapid response is very important with P. aurea. The earlier a stand of bamboo is eradicated the easier it will be due to the size of the bamboo and spread of the rhizomes underground. Removing the bamboo before it escapes to surrounding properties is also advantageous. An established older stand will require a great deal more effort (Rickel, 2012; USDA-APHIS, 2012).

Public Awareness

Educating the public not to plant Phyllostachys invasive running bamboo is one of the most important ways to prevent more infestations (Gucker, 2009). The public is now becoming very aware of the damage caused by Phyllostachys invasive running bamboo, at least in some places. Passing out fact sheets and spreading the word through education will help slow down the spread of this destructive invasive.

Eradication

Diligence is required to eradicate an infestation of golden bamboo. The bamboo must be removed in its entirety to be successful. The area must be monitored closely for missed rhizome fragments as this is all that is needed to repeat the invasion (USDA-APHIS, 2012).

Containment/Zoning

P. aurea easily bypasses containment eventually, and planting it anywhere, even in containers, should be avoided (USDA-APHIS, 2012).

Physical/Mechanical Control

Effective bamboo removal involves digging out the rhizomes deeply enough to avoid leaving any rhizomes behind. This has proven to be the most effective bamboo removal.

Repeated cutting to the ground will not yield control; bamboo is a grass and easily tolerates cuttings (Bugwood, 2016). It has been documented that rhizome growth also becomes more aggressive after a disturbance, so removing all of the rhizomes is the most effective way to stop further spread and damage (Gucker, 2009).

Biological Control

There are no known biological controls for P. aurea. No documentation exists referring to insects or pathogens as a way to control golden bamboo (Gucker, 2009).

Chemical Control

P. aurea resists herbicide, and is difficult to eradicate. In most cases digging the rhizomes out proves to be faster and safer. Control with foliar application using glyphosate must be repeated over and over to be successful. The bamboo must be eradicated in its entirety to be successful. The area must be monitored closely for regrowth for several years (USDA-APHIS, 2012).

One of the reasons golden bamboo resists herbicide is that the rhizomes are chambered off inside, (segmented) and can be very dense making it very difficult to eradicate with herbicides (Mark Czarnota, University of Georgia, USA, personal communication, 2012). 

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Contributors

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28/06/16 Original text by:

Caryn Rickel, Institute of Invasive Bamboo Research, Connecticut, USA  

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