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Phyllostachys nigra (Lodd.) Munro

Black Bamboo

Modern name

Phyllostachys nigra (Lodd. ex Lindl.) Munro


Bambusa nigra Lodd.

Stems varying from 10 to 20 ft high in different parts of the country, and from 12 to 114 in. in diameter, very hollow; at first green, they become with age quite black; the branchlets usually mottled. Leaves in plume-like masses, usually 2 to 312 in. long, 14 to 58 in. wide (sometimes larger), of thin texture, dark green above, rather glaucous beneath, glabrous on both surfaces, the margins roughened with minute teeth; secondary veins three to six each side the midrib. When quite young there is a slight downiness at the base of the midrib beneath. The leaf-sheath is terminated by a few erect bristles. Bot. Mag., t. 7994.

Native of China, and one of the most elegant of bamboos; very distinct because of its black stems. It is a quite hardy species when once established, although it grows much larger in hotter climates. It flowered in many parts of the world including Britain between 1931 and 1935 and has probably a very long life cycle. It is the oldest of Phyllostachys in English gardens and, according to Loudon, was 7 ft high in the Horticultural Society’s gardens in 1837. It was introduced by the nurseryman Loddiges around 1825, probably from Canton.

cv. ‘Boryana’. – The bamboo known as P. boryana (Marliac) Mitf. is a minor variant of the var. henonis, with stems becoming yellow when mature. It flowered in this country in 1905, and is now rare.

cv. ‘Fulva’. – A garden form of the var. henonis, in which the stems become yellow in their second year (P. fulva Mitf.)

var. henonis (Mitf.) Rendle P. henonis Mitf.; P. puberula (Miq.) Munro; Bambusa puberula Miq. – A very graceful and luxuriant bamboo, reaching in favourable situations 14 ft in height, laden when in good health and well established with heavy plumose masses of foliage, which make the outer stems arch outward; stems bright green at first, very hollow. Leaves rather uniform in size, and from 2 to 312 in. long and 13 to 58 in. wide, tapering at the base to a well-developed stalk 18 in. long, slender-pointed; dark lustrous green above, glaucous and downy at the base of the midrib beneath; secondary veins four to seven.

Although long cultivated in Japan, this variety is a native of China and probably represents the normal wild state of the species. It was introduced about 1890. In the richness of its verdure combined with a remarkable elegance of form this bamboo is probably the loveliest of all its kind. From about 1894 to 1900 it made perhaps the most delightful feature of many gardens from October to January. In 1900 it commenced to flower all over the country, and by 1905 nearly every specimen was either dead or very severely crippled. A proportion of them recovered, and from these, as well as from plants imported afresh from Japan, it is now getting re-established in gardens. It has a long life cycle.

cv. ‘Punctata’. – More robust than typical P. nigra, and differing in the stems not being wholly black, but mottled. It flowered all over Europe 1900-8 and many plants died in consequence (P. nigra var. punctata Bean; P. puberula var. nigro-punctata H. de Leh.).



Other species in the genus