PEST: There are over 1200 varieties of bamboo throughout the world bur none are native to Australia.
PEST: There are over 1200 varieties of bamboo throughout the world bur none are native to Australia. Contributed

Don't panda to bamboo - it's not native

THERE are more than 1200 varieties of bamboo throughout the world but none are native to Australia.

They grow from very cold temperate climates to the hot tropics. There are two common forms of bamboo: running and clumping, both originating from Asia.

Bamboos are cultivated as ornamentals both indoor and in gardens.

They may become weeds in gardens, bushland and near water courses.

Many species of bamboo can pose a threat to the environment if not controlled. They become established in moist areas and other suitable environments.

Anyone growing bamboo has a responsibility to control its spread.

Two common forms of running bamboo are golden bamboo (Phyllostachys aurea) and black bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra).

Golden bamboo (Phyllostachys aurea) is native to China and has become invasive in some parts of south-eastern Queensland and in several locations along the coast of New South Wales and in the ACT.

It has also been recorded as invasive near Perth, Western Australia.

Clumping bamboos (Arundinaria spp) spread slowly from the centre, but running bamboos (Phyllostachys spp.) are invasive and spread rapidly.

Both types can pose a threat if left uncontrolled, particularly near water.

Bamboo is extremely invasive in Australia, spreading through the dumping of garden rubbish containing its rhizomes and poses a substantial threat to the environment.

It creates an impenetrable network of roots, heavy leaf litter, thick impenetrable thickets, and creates dense shade out competing with all native plant species.

Treatment to contain this weed must start as soon as possible or even better is not to plant it in the ground.

It is better to keep bamboo only in pots.

Bamboo infestations can lead to restriction of access, a monoculture of bamboo thickets, the extinction of local native plants, reduced biodiversity of native animal species and the creation of a fire risk.

It is mainly a weed of neglected areas, gardens, waterways and in urban bushland.

Bamboo species differ but generally bamboo produces erect shoots from rhizomes forming loosely clumped shoots over large areas.

Rhizomes will travel under fences, asphalt and concrete for several metres before resurfacing.

Newly planted bamboo may stay compact and not produce rhizome "runners" for six years.

Golden bamboo (Phyllostachys aurea) is a large rhizomatous perennial growing to 10m tall.

It has branched, woody stems, 20-80mm in diameter, which turn yellowish or greenish with age.

The plants have a running underground stem (or rhizome) from which buds and roots are produced.

The stems are prominently ridged at the nodes (point of attachment for leaves, stems and branches) and the genus is characterised by two unequal branches at most nodes.

Each node is separated from the next by a hollow internode (the section of stem between nodes).

Golden bamboo only flowers at intervals of 15-30 years or more.

The only effective method of control is to dig out the roots. Sometimes this means using heavy earthmoving equipment due to the toughness of the fibrous root systems.

For manual control of small infestations carefully dig the base of the plant rhizome (underground stem) and all roots out of the ground.

Ensure full removal of ALL of the root system of the plant, otherwise it will reshoot.

Cut stems may be placed in small piles to maintain some ground cover and habitat for animals as they die back.

Hot fires can be effective for controlling and killing bamboo.

Native plants to use instead of bamboo include banksias, leptospermums, hakeas and grevilleas.

These provide good screening, windbreaks and good habitat for a range of native animals.

Lomandra and melaleucas are good for erosion control.

Strategic chemical application to individual stems using a glyphosate based herbicide by 'cut and paint' method can be done but is not always effective.

Regular follow up is essential.

 Ian Read can be contacted on 4159 9365, or email for free weed presentations or workshops to landowners and community groups, or for weed identification and control, native plants advice, erosion control, or landscaping advice.

 Ring Landcare president Michael Johnson on 0422 297 062 for weed project details and monthly meeting times, or email

 The Bundaberg Landcare Nursery at the Salvation Army Tom Quinn Centre in Doctor May's Road is open on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays 10am to 3.30pm. The Landcare nursery phone number is 0466 884 128 for native plant advice or plant orders.