Arundinaria gigantea or Native Bamboo (need opinions)

Madison, IL(Zone 6b)

I'm considering ordering canebrake from MO Wildflowers. I love bamboo, and would like to grow some in back of my property for privacy. I understand that the running type can be very invasive. Also, some varieties grow quite tall. Then, there's many that aren't hardy in zone 6.

I've done some research and the native canebrake sounds like a good choice. Also, the price is right. I've read that Indians use to hunt in the "canebrake" because animals would hide in it, so I thought maybe the dogs would also enjoy it without destroying it? I was also hoping to harvest some of the larger canes to use as plant supports.

All comments/opinions appreciated. Please be honest if you feel I'm making a big mistake. I've spent the past 18 years fighting the invasives that were left growing on this property by the former owner. Thanks everyone!

Hawthorne, FL(Zone 8b)

Well, there's a lot less of the native bamboo than there used to be, and it was once very widespread.. Grazing cattle wiped out a lot of it, a lot was cleared by settlers, and for all I know you might be re-introducing it where it grew nearly two centuries ago but has been long gone. USDA says it's native to Illinois, and the county distribution map shows it in all counties south of St. Louis's latitude or so. It is not shown as being in your county, but it's in most counties south and southeast of it. Even if it does prove invasive, it'll likely be invading part of its past range.

Despite the name of the species, the culms are not all that thick or tall: they can hit twenty feet in good conditions (in Colonial times, 30 feet, but this is now rare for some reason), but other members of the genus (not native) get taller. Maximum culm diameter is about an inch. Also, the species has rather a ragged look, especially at the end of winter, and isn't quite as pretty as most of the non-native bamboos. The ones I have seen in Florida usually look as if the cat has been at them, so to speak.

Go for it.

Mark., I should, too

Madison, IL(Zone 6b)

Thank you so much for responding. You pretty much validated what I've read on various websites that sell this bamboo. I guess if it gets too invasive, we'll do what the previous residents did--move!! Just kidding. I also agree that it probably grew in this area and maybe still does along the rivers and lakes since this is the bottomland along the MS Rr. We have acres of protected wetlands for migrating waterfowl in this area.

I guess where you live just about any kind of bamboo grows well. The St. Louis Zoo has some really beautiful bamboo in the bird sanctuary. It gives the illusion of being in a secluded area though only a few yards away from a busy street. That's when I started to think about growing it. Yeah, I'm filling out my order form now.

This message was edited Mar 23, 2007 12:21 AM

Moscow, TN(Zone 7a)

It is native here in SW Tennessee. I have it growing in several places on my property and it is not a problem at all. Although it does grow as thick or close together as non-native types. If you would like I can take a picture of the largest grove for you and post it.


Madison, IL(Zone 6b)

Thank you Loretta, but I've viewed quite a few photos posted already in plantfiles. I'm still waiting for my order. I'm going to have to give MO WF Nursery a call to find out what's the holdup.

I love visiting SW Tennessee. My parents were from NW TN. I just enjoy visiting Tennessee period; such warm friendly people. : )

Madison, IL(Zone 6b)

I didn't receive the bamboo until early Aug. The nursery wanted to hold off until the plants were well established in the pots before shipping. They arrived in great shape & have held up well during one of the hottest/driest August's that we've had in a while. I'm anxious to see them take off once we start getting some rain & cooler temps.

Madison, IL(Zone 6b)

One out of 3 plants are green and growing; though another may still have some life in it. The third one was dug up and eaten by one of our pups. To have survived last summer's drought and heat wave, I'm optimistic that with all the rainfall that we've had this spring that the survivor should thrive this summer and, hopefully, spread out.

Madison, IL(Zone 6b)

Here's my bamboo now. It was slow getting started, but now it's really filled in a nice area.

Thumbnail by greenbrain
Scott County, KY(Zone 5b)

Nicely done, greenbrain - and for commitment to follow-through on a thread.

I'm only sorry that you started this in the Invasives Forum, which is a sad place to elaborate on this fine native plant.

You should celebrate your success on the Natives Forum, and maybe inspire others to use this excellent plant in their landscapes.

Madison, IL(Zone 6b)

I had the same thought. I will do that soon. Thank you.

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