Bamboo (Bambusa vulgaris, Phyllostachys aurea, Pseudosasa japonica)
This month we focus on one of the more recognizable invasive plant species found in Rock Creek Park; bamboo! If you have traveled at all throughout the watershed, you have undoubtedly seen bamboo on the edge of yards, alleys, or parks.
While it can look very nice when it is maintained on private property, as soon as it spreads to parkland, bamboo can take over an area and box out all native plants. In this region, three species of bamboo are most prevalent: Common Bamboo (B. vulgaris), Golden Bamboo (P. aurea), and Arrow Bamboo (P. japonica). All are members of the grass family and are popular ornamentals.
Bamboo can grow very dense, single species, thickets that block out all other native plants. In some cases, one thicket can have up to 800 different bamboo shoots in close proximity, and some species have been known to grow up to 40 feet in height. Eradication is very difficult and usually requires a multi-year effort to remove sprouting rhizomes buried under the stalks. Chemical treatment is most effective for large infestations.
DO NOT PLANT EXOTIC BAMBOO ON YOUR PROPERTY! In June 2017, Rock Creek Conservancy worked in partnership with the National Park Service to begin removing a huge swath of bamboo in the southern portions of Glover Archbold Park. We will be hosting more bamboo events in the fall. If you are interested in helping to volunteer, please stay on the lookout for our upcoming events!