Photo copyright: Noah Bell, Bamboo Garden, 2011
"Feather-like" P. nigra foliage
(click on photo to see larger image)
Common name: "Black Bamboo"
Expected Height: 20 to 35 feet
Diameter: 2.25 inches
Hardiness: 5° F
USDA Zone recommended 7
With jet black
culms and feathery green leaves, this is perhaps our most sought after
bamboo. Under ideal conditions Black Bamboo will grow to 35 feet in height with culms over 2
inches in diameter, but 25 feet is its average height in most climates.
There has been at least one instance where Black Bamboo has been measured at
over 45 feet, but this appears to be very rare. In most residential gardens
here in Portland, Oregon, we usually find Black Bamboo to reach a plateau of
about 25 to 30 feet in height.
should be given a generous
layer of rich topsoil, composed of compost or aged manure and mulch, and
space to grow unimpeded. It makes an outstanding specimen, if well cared
for, and can be the focal point of any garden. It can also be shaped to form
a dense hedge for privacy.
New culms emerge green every spring and gradually turn black
in one to three years (see photos below). There is always a contrast of light and dark culms balanced by
slender, dark green leaves. This bamboo is initially slow to spread, through
when mature, it can be quite vigorous. If planted in poor soil it tends to
grow in a tight cluster, producing mostly thin, weepy culms.
Black Bamboo and P. nigra 'Bory' are among the most
prized bamboos for decorative wood working. Both will retain their dark or
mottled colors when dried.
Photos copyright: Noah Bell, 2007
Progression of cane color: 1 year old and new shoot on
top left, 2 year old canes on top right, 3 year old canes on