Southeast Exotic Pest Plant Council

Southeast Exotic Pest Plant Council Invasive Plant Manual

Common Name: Golden Bamboo, Fishpole Bamboo

Scientific Name: Phyllostachys aurea Carr. ex A.& C.

There have been over 750 bamboo plant introductions into the United States. Of these, twenty-four species and eleven cultivars have been in the Phyllostachys genus. Golden bamboo was introduced in Alabama in 1882. In China, these plants grow in deciduous and coniferous forests. It is used for paper pulp, handicrafts and as a food source in many countries throughout Asia. The name Phyllostachys comes from phyllon, meaning leaf, and stachys, meaning spike.

Height: Golden bamboo culms can reach a height of 8 to 10 meters. The basal internodes of this species are inflated, a distinguishing characteristic.

Leaves: The leaves are lanceolate; 1.5 dm long and 1 to 2 cm wide. The edges of the leaves may be rough or smooth without lobes.

Flowers: Golden bamboo flowers infrequently and may not flower for several decades. Spikelets are solitary and 8 to 12 flowered.

Life History

P. aurea is a monopodial bamboo and primarily spreads by rhizomes. Shoots develop in the spring with initiation primarily controlled by temperature. The culms grow from side shoots at alternate nodes of the rhizome. Flowering is infrequent and in many cases will preclude the death of the plant.

Origin and Distribution

Golden bamboo is native to China but has been cultivated in Japan for centuries. It was introduced to the United States in 1882 in Alabama. Since that time it has spread or been introduced to the Southeastern U.S. from Maryland to Florida, Louisiana to Arkansas and Oregon.

Similar Species

One possible look-alike to P. aurea is Arundinaria gigantea or Cane, which is native throughout the Southeastern United States. These two species can be distinguished by P. aurea having one side of the stem flattened. The cross section of A. gigantea is more or less round.


Golden bamboo thrives in full sun in all but the hottest climates where it requires some shade. It will grow in sparsely wooded secondary forests. Vigorous growth and spread is seen in moist, deep loamy soils. In habitats less than ideal, P. aurea will continue to grow and spread although at a diminished rate.

Photo by James H. Miller

Photo by James H. Miller

Photo by James R. Allison

Management Recommendations

Mechanical Control

Cutting/Mowing: This method can be used on small infestations or where herbicides cannot be used. Cut plants as close to the ground as possible. Repeat several times throughout the growing season as plants resprout. Monitoring and re-treatment will be necessary for several growing seasons until the energy reserves in the rhizomes are exhausted.

Herbicidal Control

Foliar Spray Method: This method should be considered for large areas of bamboo where risk to non-target species is minimal. Air temperature should be above 65°F to ensure absorption of herbicides.

Glyphosate: Apply a 2% solution of glyphosate and water plus a 0.5% non-ionic surfactant to thoroughly wet all leaves. Use a low pressure and coarse spray pattern to reduce spray drift damage to non-target species. Glyphosate is a non-selective systemic herbicide that may kill non-target, partially sprayed plants.

Cut Stump Method: This control method should be considered when treating individual trees or where the presence of desirable species precludes foliar application. Stump treatments can be used as long as the ground is not frozen.

Glyphosate: Horizontally cut stems at or near ground level. Immediately apply a 25% solution of glyphosate and water to the cut stump, covering the outer 20% of the stump.


American Bamboo Society. <>. Nov. 28, 2002.

Radford, A. E.; Ahles, H. E.; Bell, C. R. Manual of vascular flora of the Carolinas. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press; 1968.

Farrelly, David. The Book of Bamboo. San Francisco, CA: Sierra Club Books. 1984.

Gleason, H. A.; Cronquist, A. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. 2nd ed. The New York Botanical Garden; 1991.

Kartesz, J.T. A Synonymized Checklist and Atlas with Biological Attributes for the Vascular Flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. First Edition. In: Kartesz, J.T., and C.A. Meacham. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, NC. 1999.

USDA, NRCS. 2002. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.5 <>. National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA. Nov. 8, 2002.

Radford, A.E., H.E. Ahles, and C. Ritchie Bell. Manual of the Flora of the Carolinas. The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC. 1968.

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