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.
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. P. nigra 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.
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.