Giant timber bamboo

Giant timber bamboo

Giant timber bamboo, Day 1
Day 1 of measuring: fat bamboo shoot is 58″ tall

This giant timber bamboo grove came over from the neighbours’ yard. My guess it’s been there since the late 1960s, back when a well-known Japanese-Canadian poet lived next door. Recently the neighbours cut down all the stems on their side of the fence, but I am tolerating it on my side because it’s beautiful and acts as a privacy screen. It’s very invasive, though, and has to be fought back every year with shovels, picks and a crow bar. Or pandas. I oscillate from being in love with it to being repelled by it. The roots are creepy in a sci-fi way: they’re strangely fat and juicy and they spread almost supernaturally fast. Above ground the growth is equally obscene, and when the shoots come up in the spring there are lewd comments. I’m letting it travel quite far down my fence for one reason only, and that’s to hide the perennial toxic-green Pert shampoo bottle on the neighbour’s bathroom windowsill. How can four successive sets of next-door tenants have all used Pert? It’s some kind of practical joke. Like bamboo, you can’t kill it. Who uses that sort of smelly radioactive concoction anymore? Really attractive math students, apparently, who smell like Pert. But to return to the story, the bamboo was growing so quickly I decided to see if it was really growing a foot a day, as it’s said to do. To my surprise, it actually was. Not every day – it seems to depend on some kind of combination of sun and rain or something – but on four different days this week the tallest shoot actually grew a total of nearly 13 inches per day. Bamboo World says this is normal. I’m pretty sure the strain of this bamboo is Phyllostachys vivax and while I’d have preferred Japanese madake, which is woodier and grows very straight and vertical rather than leaning toward the sun, this strain of giant bamboo is very pretty too. Apparently the shoots are edible – you just dig down and cut at about 4″ below soil level – and I’m going to try that this weekend with some of the stems I need to control. You have to boil them to neutralize their toxins. If you have a recipe, please send.

Bamboo Day 3 - 13" taller than the day before
Day 3

Bamboo growth, Day 2

Giant bamboo, June 17 2010
Day 10, over 150″. It took only about 2 weeks to reach this height.

Giant bamboo, June 17 2010

On years when it snows heavily, the snow always knocks a few stems over and I sometimes bring them inside. They’re also useful for making fences to keep dogs out of the vegetable garden.

Altar sitting area, with Danish energy-efficient wood stove

First vegetable garden, 2008

NOTE: Do not try this at home. If you want bamboo, get a clumping variety, not a running variety. If you really want giant bamboo – and unfortunately all giant bamboo strains are invasive running bamboos – get a really big planter or trough. Do your research to make sure the drainage ┬áholes won’t allow the roots to break through. They tell you bamboo roots won’t go down more than 18-24″ (roots do prefer to go sideways rather than down) BUT IT IS NOT TRUE. Not true of giant bamboos, anyway. To get around barriers, bamboo roots in my little grove have spread down almost 3′. Don’t underestimate its ability to do whatever it wants. It will get into the foundation of your house, and after spending a day tracking its roots with a shovel, you’ll dream about it at night.

And you can’t poison it. Nothing kills it, not even boiling water. You have to dig it out by hand. When disposing of it, try to kill it first (just dry it out for a few months in a garbage bag) before sending it to the dump or compost facility. Bamboo is so invasive it’s listed as one of the prime dangers to natural forests and ecosystems worldwide. Very noxious introduced species. Be responsible with your bamboo, or your neighbours and everyone else will end up coping with it.


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7 Responses to “Giant timber bamboo”

  1. Andrea Says:

    Haha, this is a great post. We had a GIANT bamboo “hedge” along the side of my house when I was growing up. It was a constant struggle–nipping new shoots poking out of the ground, lobbing off the top so our house wouldn’t get too shady. As a child I tried to fight my way through the dense thicket, pushing and squeezing past the smooth stems and scratchy clumps of leaves. There was one clearing in the middle where the stalks didn’t grow for some reason, and upon reaching it I was almost always scratched and bloody.
    So YES. Send pandas indeed!

  2. knitgirl Says:

    ok, when can we come over?

    juicy roots? OMG….”it’s aliiiiiiiiiiiive”…….

  3. s r Says:

    my neighbor came over and threatened to sue us when she saw me planting some bamboo…
    I had to talk her down of the ledge and show her that it was a clumping variety… but still, she still gives me the stink eye every time I see her…

  4. LB Says:

    Hey, thanks for the stories. Don’t even get me started – I was being nice in this post and masking how I really feel about the 122 feet of bamboo grove I have to fight annually. My neighbour is going to have to deal with it soon. I am not pleased. Now if it were clumping bamboo like sr’s, that might be different. Andrea, do you have scars from crashing through it? I do!

  5. CJW Says:

    Oh, come on. You are upset at having this plant in your yard. Please. Let me remind you what exactly you got there.

    First of all you do indeed have P.Vivax as Vivax has weak culms that make it break under load of snow. This variety is extremely invasive. I’ll agree. But it should NEVER be treated like a pest plant. I’ll explain.

    1) Bamboo is an air filter. This means it can convert NOx and COx around your house into breathable air for you.
    2) Bamboo can and will act as an air conditioner and provide valuable shade.
    3) It’s a greenhouse gas reducer. It also provides valuable habitat for various native hummingbirds and other animals. I have a huge grove of Madake. P.Bambusoides in SW of Victoria. I have seen more animals using it for shelter that another other plant.
    4) Its culms and shoots are useable.
    5) it’s just beautiful! I’f you don’t want it I’ll gladly take it.

  6. not a domestic plant; an act of God Says:

    Sure, it looks pretty now, but are you aware that soon it can not be stopped and becomes a green wall 60 feet high advancing everywhere? I love P. vivax, and moso…. and have five species on my 3 acres area of forest and pond. I do not mind it taking over, but seems you have this near neighbors?

  7. LB Says:

    Apparently bamboo is one of the biggest dangers to natural forests – it’s just taking over the planet, especially places where it does not belong. As for my yard, my neighbour and I have dug every last bit of it up, and sunk it back into safe planters. No more fighting the bamboo, after 8 years of it. The war is over!

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