Species growing 'wild' in Central CA

redneck_growerOctober 3, 2008

Sorry for the regional question. There is a species of bamboo that has presumably escaped cultivation and is growing on river/creek banks throughout the San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys. Sorry, no pic yet. It looks to get about 20 or so feet, culms an inch or a bit more in diameter. Green to tan culms without any discernible decoration, long green leaves.

Anybody know the species? I'm guessing a Phyllostachys sp., but that's only a guess.

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Took another look. Now I'm not sure it is a Phyllostachys; the leaves look a lot different than my P. aureosulcata, P. nigra. The appearance of the young culms (I only have young culms at this point) resembles a corn plant (grain corn, not the houseplant). The leaves seem to originate singly at the nodes; my P. aureosulcata, P. nigra have what appears to be a petiole with leaflets.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2008 at 9:18PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

If you've got leaves that originate at the nodes, it's not bamboo. And the bit about the corn plant resemblance is further confirmation of that. It's most likely some type of giant reed, like Arundo donax. Take a look at this link and tell me what you think...

Here is a link that might be useful: A. donax

    Bookmark   October 3, 2008 at 10:21PM
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By golly, I think that's it! I sure have a lot to learn regarding the bamboos! Thanks for the info.

Is there any merit to this plant in the garden? What about control?

I practice rhizome cutting as a control measure on my running bamboos. Is this beast as easy to control?

    Bookmark   October 3, 2008 at 10:42PM
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It is a slow spreader here in zone 8b and growing in sandy and clay soil.

I have some in my yard and have never had to rhizome trim it after 20 years. I have the variegated a. donax.

Some people say it has an odor to it.

I, personally, like it.


    Bookmark   October 3, 2008 at 11:28PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

A. donax can be invasive, but I'm not saying don't plant it. That link I gave you has a pretty even-handed discussion of its properties, and it has some negatives relating to outcompeting other plants and so on that you may wish to consider in terms of your overall gardening plans and the specific characteristics of your property.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2008 at 1:36PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Arundo is hypothesized to displace native plants and associated wildlife species as a consequence of the massive stands it forms (Bell 1994); the mechanism of competition with native species is not established. It clearly becomes a dominant component of the flora, and was estimated to comprise 68% of the riparian vegetation in the Santa Ana River (Douthit 1994). Several special status species are associated with CaliforniaÂs semi-arid riparian zones, including Least BellÂs vireo, Southwestern willow flycatcher and Yellow-billed cuckoo, all of which would be negatively affected by the replacement of willow/cottonwood riparian vegetation by Giant reed (Frandsen and Jackson 1994, Dudley and Collins 1995). Such species require the habitat and food resources provided by native plants, which support more insects than does Arundo (Herrera 1997). Unlike native riparian plants, Arundo provides little shading to the in-stream habitat, leading to increased water temperatures and reduced habitat quality for aquatic wildlife (Hoshovsky 1988). At risk are protected species like Arroyo toad, Red-legged frog, Western pond turtle, Santa Ana sucker, Arroyo chub, Unarmored three-spined stickleback, Tidewater goby and Southern steelhead trout, among others (Franklin 1996). In the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region Arundo interferes with levee maintenance and wildlife habitat management (P. Perrine, pers. comm.).

Arundo is also suspected of altering hydrological regimes and reducing groundwater availability by transpiring large amounts of water from semi-arid aquifers (Iverson 1994). It alters channel morphology by retaining sediments and constricting flows, and in some cases may reduce stream navigability (V. Lake, pers. comm, TNC 1996). Dense growths present fire hazards, often near urbanized areas, more than doubling the available fuel for wildfires and promoting post-fire regeneration of even greater quantities of Giant reed (Scott 1994, Frandsen 1994). Uprooted plants also pose clean-up problems when deposited on banks or in downstream estuaries (Douce 1994) and during floods create hazards where trapped behind bridges and other structures


    Bookmark   October 4, 2008 at 2:19PM
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Thanks all for your input.

From it's cultural requirements, it sounds like it's easier to control in a semi-arid garden than running bamboos. I am far from riparian areas, and all of them are already infested!

    Bookmark   October 4, 2008 at 4:49PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

I grow it here, but I have never seen it flowering in our climate. Phragmites has invaded local wetlands, but not Arundo.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2008 at 8:25PM
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