Phyllostachys aurea (fish-pole bamboo, Monk’s belly bamboo, Fairyland bamboo)

description: perennial grass

place of origin: China

urban habitat: found on roadsides, abandoned home sites, escaped populations are usually found near cultivated sites; spreads rapidly through horizontal growth of rhizomes, which are stimulated by disturbances; wide creeping rootstocks form impenetrable solid stands; roots can buckle sidewalks and driveways; suspected to be dispersed by discarded rhizome fragments in yard waste; thrives best on sandy soils, but is known to grow in a variety of soil types although its height is likely reduced in poorly drained soils; in ideal conditions can grow up to 40 ft in height; prefers full sun but can tolerate winter temperatures

ecological function: disturbance-adapted colonizer; although flowering is rare, birds and small mammals can feed on its seed; habitat for wildlife

history: Phyllostachys aurea has been widely planted as an ornamental in tropical and temperate areas of the world for centuries. It was first planted in the in US in 1882 in Alabama. In North America, it continues to be cultivated as far north and west as Vancouver, BC and as far north and east as Buffalo, NY, and is typically planted as a sound and visual barrier. It is now estimated to occupy over 70,000 acres in forests in the southern US. It was cultivated for years in the Hawaiian Islands, where it now grows wild. It has impacted negatively on native plant communities in many regions in the south central and southeastern US and is considered invasive in Florida. Its stem is used in a variety practical ways: in building construction, to make fishing poles and nets, canes, irrigation pipes, musical instruments, furniture, and umbrella handles. The crushed, beaten and cooked stems can be made into a paper. It is also edible: young shoots can be eaten raw or cooked and its seed can be consumed like rice, used as a cereal or ground into flour.