The 'Phyllostachys group' mainly comprises bamboos with leptomorph or creeping rhizomes. With the exception of Shibataea, most of the bamboos in this croup are medium to large woody bamboos.
All bamboos in this group have a high ornamental value and can be used as specimens, hedge plants. The can also be planted to created visual screens or to form groves covering large areas.
Several species have highly decorative culms. With the exception of Chimonobambusa, most of the species in the group are very hardy.
Chimonobambusa (incl. Qiongzhuea)
The new shoots generally appear in autumn. The species grow 2-5 m tall and the diameter of the culms is 1-2 cm. Very prominent is the occurrence of quadrangular culms in many of the species, in the lower part of the culm. Also woody root initials are often observed at the lower nodes. Chimonobambusa have a branch complement of 3 or more branches, the culm sheath is deciduous or can remain attached.
Chimonobambusa quadrangularis and C. marmorea are the most common species in this genus. Both also have somatic mutants (both in culm and leaf) but these are rare. Chimonobambusa tumidissinoda (syn. Qionghzhuea tumidissinoda) has very prominent nodes and is used in China for making decorative walking sticks.
Qiongzhuea is regarded as a section of the genus Chimonobambusa, rather than as a separate genus. The plants are only mildly frost resistant and in severe winters the foliage and culms can be severely or completely damaged, but not the rhizomes.
This genus is undoubtedly the most important of all bamboo genera. This favourite genus has a large diversity in growth forms and stem colour variants. On most nodes 2 (sometimes 3) branches grow out from the nodal buds, and at this side the internode is flattened (sulcus). These two characters suffice to distinguish Phyllostachys plants unambigously. The culm leaves are deciduous.
More than 120 species and forms have been introduced in Europe, and most of these grow in private gardens or botanical collections. But among the 25 to 40 species which are found in horticultural trades, some jewels with variegated culms can be found. Phyllostachys nigra, the black bamboo, was the first bamboo introduced in Europe (around 1827).
In recent years numerous new species and cultivars have been introduced from China, though not all of these are interesting for horticultural practice. Yellow and green culm color variants are found in several species of the genus as shown in the table.
They have leptomorph rhizomes, and are more or less spreading. Some species are vigorous spreaders and in planning or planting these bamboos, this should be taken into consideration. The propensity for spreading is also dependent on microclimate and soil (including nutritional status).
This genus is a hybrid with Phyllostachys as one of the parents, which can be seen in the large and erect stature. The other parent is a Pleioblastus species, as witnessed in branch complements, which has more than 3 (contrary to Phyllostachys) branches at each node. The branches are short and not arching. This gives the plants a special appearance since it is the only truly erect tall bamboo genus with height between 7 and 10 m. Trimming is not necessary.
In contrast to the large diversity in Phyllostachys, only some species and forms are interesting in horticulture. Especially S. fastuosa, the bamboo, with its brownish culms, Semiarundinaria viridis, with green culms, and Semiarundinaria kagamiana, S. yashadake, S. yashadake 'Kimmei', and S. yamadorii.
A group of bamboos of lower stature with leptomorph rhizomes. In natural environments these bamboos grow only 1-2 m tall but they can be trimmed at almost any height; in fact they should be trimmed after winter to promote development of new shoots. This makes them highly suited for low hedges. While most bamboo leaves are long compared to width, Shibataea leaves are prominently wide (2.5-3 cm) and short (8-10 cm). Branch complement is 3-6. Most popular is Shibataea kumasaca, but also forms with yellow or white variegated leaves are highly attractive.