Southeast Exotic Pest Plant Council Invasive Plant Manual

Common Name: Golden Bamboo, Fishpole Bamboo

Scientific Name: Phyllostachys aurea Carr. ex A.& C.

There have been over 750 bamboo plant introductions into the United States. Of these, twenty-four species and eleven cultivars have been in the Phyllostachys genus. Golden bamboo was introduced in Alabama in 1882. In China, these plants grow in deciduous and coniferous forests. It is used for paper pulp, handicrafts and as a food source in many countries throughout Asia. The name Phyllostachys comes from phyllon, meaning leaf, and stachys, meaning spike.

Height: Golden bamboo culms can reach a height of 8 to 10 meters. The basal internodes of this species are inflated, a distinguishing characteristic.

Leaves: The leaves are lanceolate; 1.5 dm long and 1 to 2 cm wide. The edges of the leaves may be rough or smooth without lobes.

Flowers: Golden bamboo flowers infrequently and may not flower for several decades. Spikelets are solitary and 8 to 12 flowered.

Life History

P. aurea is a monopodial bamboo and primarily spreads by rhizomes. Shoots develop in the spring with initiation primarily controlled by temperature. The culms grow from side shoots at alternate nodes of the rhizome. Flowering is infrequent and in many cases will preclude the death of the plant.

Origin and Distribution

Golden bamboo is native to China but has been cultivated in Japan for centuries. It was introduced to the United States in 1882 in Alabama. Since that time it has spread or been introduced to the Southeastern U.S. from Maryland to Florida, Louisiana to Arkansas and Oregon.

Similar Species

One possible look-alike to P. aurea is Arundinaria gigantea or Cane, which is native throughout the Southeastern United States. These two species can be distinguished by P. aurea having one side of the stem flattened. The cross section of A. gigantea is more or less round.


Golden bamboo thrives in full sun in all but the hottest climates where it requires some shade. It will grow in sparsely wooded secondary forests. Vigorous growth and spread is seen in moist, deep loamy soils. In habitats less than ideal, P. aurea will continue to grow and spread although at a diminished rate.

Photo by James H. Miller

Photo by James H. Miller

Photo by James R. Allison

Management Recommendations

Mechanical Control

Cutting/Mowing: This method can be used on small infestations or where herbicides cannot be used. Cut plants as close to the ground as possible. Repeat several times throughout the growing season as plants resprout. Monitoring and re-treatment will be necessary for several growing seasons until the energy reserves in the rhizomes are exhausted.

Herbicidal Control

Foliar Spray Method: This method should be considered for large areas of bamboo where risk to non-target species is minimal. Air temperature should be above 65°F to ensure absorption of herbicides.

Glyphosate: Apply a 2% solution of glyphosate and water plus a 0.5% non-ionic surfactant to thoroughly wet all leaves. Use a low pressure and coarse spray pattern to reduce spray drift damage to non-target species. Glyphosate is a non-selective systemic herbicide that may kill non-target, partially sprayed plants.

Cut Stump Method: This control method should be considered when treating individual trees or where the presence of desirable species precludes foliar application. Stump treatments can be used as long as the ground is not frozen.

Glyphosate: Horizontally cut stems at or near ground level. Immediately apply a 25% solution of glyphosate and water to the cut stump, covering the outer 20% of the stump.


American Bamboo Society. <>. Nov. 28, 2002.

Farrelly, David. The Book of Bamboo. San Francisco, CA: Sierra Club Books. 1984.

Gleason, H. A.; Cronquist, A. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. 2nd ed. The New York Botanical Garden; 1991.

Kartesz, J.T. A Synonymized Checklist and Atlas with Biological Attributes for the Vascular Flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. First Edition. In: Kartesz, J.T., and C.A. Meacham. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, NC. 1999.

Golden Bamboo

Golden Bamboo

Golden bamboo is a perennial with finely textured green leaves and attractive golden-yellow stems. Considered a running bamboo, it is often planted for privacy’s sake because it grows quickly (sometimes up to 20 feet or more) and spreads to create a dense hedge or screen. It also provides bold vertical interest in landscape beds or in the contained space between two driveways. Unfortunately, this plant becomes invasive so it’s not recommended for all landscapes.

genus name
  • Phyllostachys aurea
  • Part Sun,
  • Sun
plant type
  • Shrub,
  • Tree
  • 8 to 20 feet,
  • 20 feet or more
  • Can spread indefinitely
season features
  • Winter Interest
problem solvers
  • Deer Resistant,
  • Good For Privacy
special features
  • Low Maintenance,
  • Good for Containers
  • 6,
  • 7,
  • 8,
  • 9,
  • 10
  • Division

Alternatives to Golden Bamboo

Golden bamboo is an invasive plant in many areas of North America, particularly those with tropical climates. Spreading by a series of underground stems, it quickly grows beyond the original growing location. Fast-growing and easy-to-grow golden bamboo may be sold at local garden centers. Before purchasing, check with your local Extension service about the invasive status of golden bamboo in your area.

If golden bamboo is invasive in your region, consider planting a noninvasive ornamental grass instead. ‘Northwind’ switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) has thin blades and a bold upright habit. It grows 4 to 5 feet tall. ‘Karl Foerster’ feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora), which has showy seed heads in late summer and fall, is another native grass to consider. It grows 3 to 5 feet tall and has showy seed heads in late summer and fall.

Caring for Golden Bamboo

Golden bamboo grows best in full sun and rich, moist, well-draining soil. Dig a hole as deep as the plant’s container and twice as wide as the root ball. Place the plant in the hole, then backfill with soil mixed with mulch. Water deeply. Subsequent waterings should keep the soil moist but not soggy. Space golden bamboo plants at least 4 feet apart to accommodate future growth.

Install root barriers around these perennials when planting them in the landscape unless you are prepared for infinite spread. Or plant each one in a large plastic pot sunk into the soil so the rim of the pot extends 3 to 5 inches above the ground. This will prevent golden bamboo from creeping into the surrounding soil.

Avoid spreading altogether by planting golden bamboo in a container at least 24 inches deep and wide. The pot should be made of wood or unglazed terra cotta with drainage holes at the bottom. Place the pot on a sturdy, impenetrable surface, such as a concrete, that will prevent the ground from being invaded. After planting, cover the soil surface with two inches of mulch to help it retain moisture. Water a potted golden bamboo three times a week during the summer, more often if the temperature reaches 90°F. (In other words, don’t let the soil dry out.) Following the manufacturer’s directions for dosage amount, fertilize once a month with 17-6-2 slow-release fertilizer. Water thoroughly after fertilizing.

Getting Rid of Bamboo

Golden bamboo is tough to eradicate once it is established in the ground. Be persistent. Cut plants as close to the ground as possible. Watch for new growth and repeat cutting several times during the growing season as necessary until underground rhizomes die. Chemical herbicides are occasionally effective, too. Follow application directions carefully.

Function Meets Beauty & Easy Growth

Why Golden Bamboo Plants?

An Asian-inspired look, right in your homescape, is just a click away with the Golden Bamboo. And this variety ticks all the boxes of a landscape favorite, with drought tolerance, carefree growth, and fast privacy.

Plus, it’s got the highly sought-after perk of bright golden color. The Golden Bamboo adds style and functionality to any landscape. From light green hues to gleaming gold, the Bamboo is bolstered by sabertooth leaves for a truly priceless look.

Thick growth and dense leaves make Golden the unrivaled choice for the creation of a privacy barrier that will perform beyond expectations in no time at all. And you don’t have to live in the tropics for Golden Bamboo to thrive. Areas as far north as New York can easily grow Golden Bamboo to bring warmth and tranquility to backyard retreats.

It’s no wonder why it’s called the dream screen. The challenge of planting any screen is getting it to grow quickly enough to provide the desired amount of privacy. That challenge is quickly met by the fast, clustered growth of Golden Bamboo’s canes, coming together to create a tropical wall that will prevent any curious eyes from peering through. Once the bamboo absorbs the right amount of sunlight, its pale green canes will transform into the brilliant golden color for which it’s aptly named.
Why is Better

Each spring you can expect new canes to spring forth and fill in any thin areas of your screen. That’s because we’ve planted, grown and shipped your Golden Bamboo with utmost care.

We grow your Golden Bamboo in its own container from the very beginning, so you’ll get a full, healthy root system that establishes quickly and explodes with new growth without the work. More roots mean more canes, after all.

A highly drought-tolerant species, the Golden Bamboo’s straight upward growth makes it easy to maintain, and its classic tropical beauty makes it hard not to love. Is there anything the Golden Bamboo can’t do? Get your own Golden Bamboo today!

Planting & Care

1. Planting: For best results, give your Golden a sunny spot that will provide some shade in the winter. The Golden Bamboo prefers loamy soil which contains a mixture of sand, silt, and clay and offers good drainage. However, the Bamboo adapts to moist soil types, provided there is good drainage. Also, since the Bamboo’s root system is shallow, provide protection from high winds.

Dig a hole with the same depth as the plant’s container and about twice its width. Carefully place the Golden plant in the hole. Backfill, remove any air pockets that may have formed while filling the hole and test the sturdiness of the plant once it’s in the ground to make sure winds will not be able to topple it. Water generously and tamp down the surrounding soil.

2. Watering: Water your Golden between 2 to 5 times each week as necessary. Water frequency will differ depending on the time of year and local climate conditions. Cooler locations typically require less frequent watering than warmer areas.

3. Fertilizing: Once your Golden becomes established, you should implement a regular fertilizing schedule. High-nitrogen organic fertilizer is the best choice for Bamboo. Apply once in the summer and again in the fall.

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