Common Name: Giant Timber Bamboo
Phyllostachys vivax is an evergreen bamboo that can grow 5 - 15 metres tall; the erect, woody culms are 40 - 75mm in diameter with thick-walled internodes uo to 32cm long. The rhizomes are elongated, the plant having a running habit that can produce new canes some distance from the main clump, especially in warm climates. This tendency to run, however, is somewhat curtailed in cooler climates, where new shoot production can be rather reduced.
The plant is widely cultivated in southeastern China, especially for the production of edible shoots but also as a source of materials. It is also commonly grown as an ornamental, valued especially for its beautiful culms and elegant, drooping foliage[
E. Asia - eastern and southeastern China
Plains and mountains.
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Phyllostachys vivax is cultivated in the temperate to subtropical regions of eastern and southeastern China. It can tolerate occasional temperatures as low as -20°c[
], but it dislikes prolonged exposure to hard frosts.
Succeeds in full sun and in partial shade. Requires a rich damp soil in a sheltered position and plenty of moisture in the growing season.
This species is notably resistant to honey fungus[
Closely related to Phyllostachys bambusoides[
Bamboos have an interesting method of growth. Each plant produces a number of new stems annually - these stems grow to their maximum height in their first year of growth, subsequent growth in the stem being limited to the production of new side branches and leaves. In the case of some mature tropical species the new stem could be as much as 30 metres tall, with daily increases in height of 30cm or more during their peak growth time. This makes them some of the fastest-growing species in the world[
Bamboos in general are usually monocarpic, living for many years before flowering, then flowering and seeding profusely for a period of 1 - 3 years before usually dying. This pattern can vary - sometimes flowering is sporadic, with plants flowering annually and not dying; at other times it is gregarious with all the plants in a specific species coming into flower at the same time.
Young shoots - raw or cooked. A delicious flavour[
], they are almost entirely free of acridity, even in the raw state[
]. The shoots, which are 4 - 8cm in diameter[
], are harvested in the spring when they are about 8cm above the ground, cutting them about 5cm below soil level.
This is a good companion species to grow in a woodland because the plants have shallow root systems that do not compete with deep tree roots[
The culms are split and used for weaving articles, or used whole to make articles such as handles of farm tools[
Seed - surface sow as soon as it is ripe in a greenhouse at about 20°c. Do not allow the compost to dry out. Germination usually takes place fairly quickly so long as the seed is of good quality, though it can take 3 - 6 months. Grow on in a lightly shaded place in the greenhouse until large enough to plant out. Seed is rarely available.
Division in spring as new growth commences. Divisions from the open ground do not transplant well, so will need careful treatment and nurturing under cover in pots until at least late spring[
]. Division is best carried out in wet weather and small divisions will establish better than large clumps[
]. Another report says that you can take large divisions from established clumps and transfer them straight to their permanent positions, misting or drenching them frequently until they are established[
Basal cane cuttings in spring.