Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Phyllostachys aurea
(golden bamboo)

Rickel C and Rojas-Sandoval J, 2017. Phyllostachys aurea (golden bamboo). Invasive Species Compendium. Wallingford, UK: CABI. DOI:10.1079/ISC.42072.20203482891

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Datasheet

Phyllostachys aurea (golden bamboo)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 14 August 2020
  • 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 that is now widespread globally and especially problematic in Australia and North America. This woody, rhizomatous perennial grass rapidly forms a dense monocu...

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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 breviligula W.T.Lin & Z.M.Wu
  • Phyllostachys formosana Hayata
  • Phyllostachys meyeri var. aurea (Carrière ex. Rivière & C.Rivière) Pilipenko
  • Phyllostachys puberula var. flavescensinversa J. Houz.
  • Phyllostachys reticulata var. aurea (Carrière ex. Rivière & C.Rivière) Makino
  • Sinarundinaria reticulata var. aurea (Rivière & C.Rivière) Ohwi
  • Sinoarundinaria formosa (Hayata) Ohwi ex Mayeb.

International Common Names

  • English: fish-pole bamboo
  • Spanish: bambú amarillo; bambucito
  • French: bambou jaune
  • Chinese: ren mian zhu
  • Portuguese: bambu-japonês; bambu-mirim

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 that 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 poses a potential threat to human health as it harbours a fungus responsible for the disease Histoplasmosis. 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.

It is listed as invasive in Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Reunion, Brazil, Costa Rica, Cuba, USA, Mexico, Spain and France. In the United States, it is listed as naturalized or invasive in 273 counties including the mid-Atlantic region of the USA, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Georgia. It is reported as fully naturalizing in New Zealand, with infestations forming dense stands, and some invading national parks. In Australia, this species is regarded as an environmental weed in Queensland and New South Wales.

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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The family Poaceae comprises about 707 genera and 11,337 species distributed worldwide (Stevens, 2017). The subfamily Bambusoideae includes 116 genera and 1441 species of both woody and herbaceous bamboos occurring in tropical to temperate regions of Asia, often in forests (Ohrnberger, 1999; Stevens, 2017). There are about 76 species within the genus Phyllostachys (Ohrnberger, 1999). The name “Phyllostachys” means "leaf spike" and refers to the inflorescences while the specific epithet “aurea” refers to the golden color of old culms and was used by Carrière and later 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). Flowers and seeds are rarely produced (USDA-APHIS, 2012). 

The following description is from Flora of China (2017):

"Culms 5–12 m, 2–5 cm in diameter; internodes 15–30 cm, usually strongly shortened and commonly ventricose at basal nodes, distally inflated for several mm below node at mid-culm and basal nodes, initially white powdery, glabrous; wall 4–8 mm thick; nodal ridge as prominent as sheath scar or slightly more prominent; sheath scar initially fringed with white pubescence. Culm sheaths yellow-green or pale red-brown, becoming straw-colored, with variably sized brown spots, base edged with white pubescence; auricles and oral setae absent; ligule yellow-green, truncate or weakly convex at apex, very short, 1–2 mm, margin longer pale green ciliate; blade reflexed, green, with yellow margins, linear, flat or crinkled in upper sheaths. Leaves 2 or 3 per ultimate branch; sheath glabrous; auricles and oral setae absent or deciduous; ligule short; blade 6–12 × 1–1.8 cm, abaxially pilose especially near petiole."

Plant Type

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Grass / sedge
Perennial
Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated
Woody

Distribution

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Native to Southeast China and Vietnam, 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 and naturalized in Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Central and South America, Europe and Africa (USDA-ARS, 2017).

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.

Last updated: 17 Feb 2021
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Planted Reference Notes

Africa

CameroonPresentIntroducedCultivated
MadagascarPresentIntroduced
RéunionPresentIntroducedInvasive
TunisiaPresentIntroducedCultivated

Asia

ChinaPresentNative
-FujianPresentNative
-ZhejiangPresentNative
Hong KongPresentIntroduced
IndiaPresentIntroducedCultivated
IndonesiaPresentIntroducedCultivated
-JavaPresentIntroducedCultivated
-Lesser Sunda IslandsPresentIntroducedCultivated
-SulawesiPresentIntroducedCultivated
-SumatraPresentIntroducedCultivated
JapanPresentIntroduced
-Bonin IslandsPresentIntroduced
TaiwanPresentIntroducedPlanted
VietnamPresentNative

Europe

FrancePresentIntroducedInvasiveCorsica
-CorsicaPresentIntroducedInvasive
ItalyPresentIntroducedCultivated
-SicilyPresentIntroduced
SpainPresentIntroducedInvasive
United KingdomPresentIntroduced

North America

CanadaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-British ColumbiaPresentIntroduced
Costa RicaPresentIntroducedInvasive
CubaPresentIntroducedInvasive
El SalvadorPresentIntroducedCultivated
GuatemalaPresentIntroducedCultivated
HondurasPresentIntroduced
MexicoPresentIntroducedInvasive
United StatesPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-AlabamaPresentIntroducedInvasive
-ArkansasPresentIntroducedInvasive
-CaliforniaPresentIntroducedInvasive
-ConnecticutPresentIntroducedInvasive
-DelawarePresentIntroducedInvasive
-FloridaPresentIntroducedInvasive
-GeorgiaPresentIntroducedInvasive
-HawaiiPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasive
-KentuckyPresentIntroducedInvasive
-LouisianaPresentIntroducedInvasive
-MarylandPresentIntroducedInvasive
-MinnesotaPresentIntroducedInvasive
-MississippiPresentIntroducedInvasive
-MissouriPresentIntroducedInvasive
-New MexicoPresentIntroducedInvasive
-New YorkPresentIntroducedInvasive
-North CarolinaPresentIntroducedInvasive
-OklahomaPresentIntroducedInvasive
-OregonPresentIntroducedInvasive
-PennsylvaniaPresentIntroducedInvasive
-South CarolinaPresentIntroducedInvasive
-TennesseePresentIntroducedInvasive
-TexasPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasive
-VirginiaPresentIntroducedInvasive
-West VirginiaPresentIntroducedInvasive

Oceania

AustraliaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-New South WalesPresent, WidespreadIntroduced1962Invasive
-QueenslandPresentIntroduced1984Invasive
-Western AustraliaPresentIntroduced2003Perth, edge of lake by drain
New ZealandPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasiveRaoul Island

South America

ArgentinaPresentIntroduced
BoliviaPresentIntroduced
BrazilPresentIntroducedPlanted
-Distrito FederalPresentIntroducedCultivated
-GoiasPresentIntroducedCultivated
-Mato GrossoPresentIntroducedCultivated
-Mato Grosso do SulPresentIntroducedCultivated
-Minas GeraisPresentIntroducedCultivated
-ParanaPresentIntroducedCultivated
-Rio de JaneiroPresentIntroducedInvasive
-Rio Grande do SulPresentIntroducedInvasive
-Santa CatarinaPresentIntroducedCultivated
-Sao PauloPresentIntroducedInvasive
ChilePresentIntroducedCultivated
ColombiaPresentIntroducedCultivated
EcuadorPresentIntroduced
-Galapagos IslandsPresentIntroducedSanta Cruz Island
PeruPresentIntroducedCultivated
UruguayPresentIntroducedCultivated

History of Introduction and Spread

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Phyllostachys aurea was the first species of Phyllostachys to be successfully introduced into the USA. It was introduced to the southern United States before 1870 for ornamental purposes, and also used for erosion control and soil stabilization (Langeland et al., 2008). Earlier introductions of this species were made by private individuals, like George H. Todd in Montgomery, Alabama, who planted a 10 acre plot in 1882 (McClure, 1957). Mature culms were used for fishing poles and walking sticks (Young and Haun, 1961). In 1882 it was introduced in Alabama and since that time it has spread from Maryland to Florida, Louisiana to Arkansas and Oregon (Gucker, 2009).

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.

In many areas extensive infestations have been documented with rapid spread and reported as highly detrimental (EDDMapS, 2016). In Hawaii, it was first reported invading native plant communities in 1992, although it has been cultivated in the state for a long time prior (Gucker, 2009).

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 No AVH (2016); USDA-NRCS (2016); Queensland Government (2017) Documented as extremely invasive, posing substantial threat to the environment
Hawaii China 1882 Horticulture (pathway cause) Yes No PIER (2016)
USA China Before 1870 Horticulture (pathway cause) Yes No USDA-APHIS (2012) Naturalized – infestations escaping and invasive

Risk of Introduction

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Phyllostachys aurea is a high risk alien invader, recorded as High Risk in the USDA-APHIS Weed Risk Assessment of July 2012 (USDA-APHIS, 2012). This species is widely commercialized for ornamental purposes, soil erosion control, living fences and hedges (Langeland et al., 2008; USDA-ARS, 2017). 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 a high risk potential for naturalization through improper rhizome disposal, and rhizome dispersal by water. Documentation shows infestations are spreading offsite by water without the aid of human cultivation (USDA-APHIS, 2012; Bugwood Presentations, 2014).

Also of great concern is the high volume of online sales, with rhizomes being shipped globally to a general public who may not be aware of the challenges of keeping this species under control. 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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Phyllostachys aurea behaves as a problematic weed in untended areas, near gardens, along roadsides and waterways and in urban bushland (Queensland Government, 2017). 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. Vigorous growth and rapid spread is seen in moist, deep loamy soils (USDA-APHIS, 2012).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
Terrestrial ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedManaged forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedManaged grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedDisturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedRail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedUrban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalRiverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalRiverbanks Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalWetlands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalWetlands 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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Genetics

The chromosome number reported for P. aurea is 2n=48 (Missouri Botanical Garden, 2020)

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). Although flowering is rare, sporadic and gregarious flowering has been observed. Gregarious flowering may occur when a clump is 15—30 years old (Chengde and Widjaja, 1995). 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

Phyllostachys aurea spreads rapidly by underground rhizomes each year followed by new culms 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 weeks. Each successive year the culms emerge thicker, and the underground rhizomes rapidly spread faster each successive year. 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).

Longevity

P. aurea is long-lived, perennial bamboo.

Activity patterns

Stems and branches of P. aurea are green when the 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 (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). 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 can be found growing in tropical to temperate areas of the world. It 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). It grows best on rich, deep and well-drained sandy soils, but tolerates a variety of soil types. However it does not withstand waterlogged conditions (Chengde and Widjaja, 1995; Langeland et al., 2008).

In China, golden bamboo stands grow at low elevations up to 1000 m in the southeast and up to 2000 m in southwest (Gucker, 2009). In Indonesia it mostly grows in the highlands above 700 m altitude, and plants grown in the lowland have shorter and smaller culms. In the Philippines it grows very well in Baguio at 1500 m altitude with average temperatures of 18-26°C (Chengde and Widjaja, 1995).

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

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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

Phyllostachys aurea can spread by seeds, and vegetatively via rhizomes and rhizome fragments. 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

Phyllostachys aurea quickly spreads outwards from deliberate garden plantings and pieces of rhizomes can also be dispersed in soil and dumped garden waste (Queensland Government, 2017). 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

Phyllostachys 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 its use in 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)
Escape from confinement or garden escapeRhizomes disposed in dumped garden waste Yes Yes Queensland Government (2017)
Garden waste disposalAccidental disposal of rhizomes by dumping yard waste Yes Yes USDA-APHIS (2012)
Habitat restoration and improvementPlanted for erosion control and soil stabilization Yes Yes Langeland et al. (2008)
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 foragingShoots are consumed as a vegetable Yes Yes Chengde and Widjaja (1995)
People sharing resourcesObservation of problem infestations - origin Yes Yes EDDMapS (2016)
Timber tradeBasal culms – wood Yes Yes Chengde and Widjaja (1995)

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)
Debris and waste associated with human activitiesRhizomes disposed in dumped garden waste Yes Yes Queensland Government (2017)

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Cultural/amenity Positive
Economic/livelihood Positive and negative
Environment (generally) Positive and negative
Human health Negative

Economic Impact

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Phyllostachys 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 in Virginia, USA is costing approximately $78,000 (Riddle, 2016).

Environmental Impact

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Impact on Habitats

Phyllostachys aurea is highly detrimental to the environment and can alter entire native ecosystems. Once established it can rapidly form very dense thickets that displace native plant species and create dense shade that makes it difficult for seedlings of native species to survive. Once established, it can be very difficult to eradicate. 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 inhibits the establishment of seeding and the growth of native 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).

Phyllostachys aurea is listed as invasive in Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Reunion, Brazil, Costa Rica, Cuba, USA, Mexico, Spain and France. It 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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Phyllostachys 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).

Phyllostachys 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 et al., 2013). The microscopic fungus, Histoplasmacapsulatum, is found where bird droppings accumulate within the bamboo. 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 et al., 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 were 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

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Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Gregarious
  • Reproduces asexually
Impact outcomes
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of hydrology
  • Modification of nutrient regime
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Monoculture formation
  • Negatively impacts forestry
  • Negatively impacts human health
  • Negatively impacts livelihoods
  • Threat to/ loss of endangered species
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
  • Negatively impacts animal/plant collections
Impact mechanisms
  • Allelopathic
  • Competition - shading
  • Competition (unspecified)
  • Rapid growth
  • Rooting
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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Environmental

  • Erosion control or dune stabilization
  • Soil conservation

General

  • Botanical garden/zoo

Materials

  • Carved material

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Traditional/folklore

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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Phyllostachys 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 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 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).

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

Phyllostachys aurea looks similar to Phyllostachys bambusoides and Phyllostachys nigra, and relatively similar to Arundo donax. These species can be distinguished by the following differences (Queensland Government, 2017):

 Phyllostachys bambusoides has greenish or yellowish coloured mature stems that are usually 6-20 cm thick. These stems have a distinctive groove running lengthwise from above where the side branches are produced. Its relatively small leaf blades (up to 10 cm long) have a short stalk-like constriction at their base and several black bristles are present near the top of the leaf sheath.

Phyllostachys nigra has blackish or purplish-black coloured mature stems that are usually 1-4 cm thick. These stems have a distinctive groove running lengthwise from above where the side branches are produced. Its relatively small leaf blades (up to 12 cm long) have a short stalk-like constriction at their base and sometimes a few bristles (i.e. setae) are present near the top of the leaf sheath.

Arundo donax has greenish coloured stems that are up to 4 cm thick. These stems are rounded and do not have any lengthwise grooves. Its very large leaves (up to 80 cm long) are not constricted at the base of the leaf blade. Flowers are regularly borne in very large, feathery, whitish coloured open panicles at the tops of the stems.

Prevention and Control

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Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

Prevention

The best prevention is to prohibit the planting of Phyllostachys invasive running bamboos (Rickel, 2014; Wagener, 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 becoming increasingly 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

Phyllostachys 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 continuously repeated 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). 

References

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Links to Websites

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WebsiteURLComment
GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gatewayhttps://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.m93f6Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
Global register of Introduced and Invasive species (GRIIS)http://griis.org/Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.

Contributors

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28/06/16 Original text by:

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

12/04/2017: Updated by:

Julissa Rojas-Sandoval, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

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