Monday, December 6, 2010

Behind the name... Phylostachys bissetii

One of my favorite running bamboo varieties is Phylostachys bissetii. It a very green, dense hedge bamboo that is as aggressive as Golden Bamboo, but so much more beautiful. It is also known to be one of the first bamboo varieties to shoot in the spring and can take extreme temperatures well below zero degrees and is known for good wind tolerance..

It's an all-time favorite in my book - fast growing and very beautiful. Its a classic bamboo, green and lush, yet practical. Its a great bamboo for a pot or container.

As with most bamboo, it has a story. This plant was named after David Bisset who was Superintendent of the Barbour Lathrop Bamboo Garden (a US Department of Agriculture Plant Introduction Station) at Savannah, Georgia from 1924 to 1957. It was introduced in 1941 from Chengdu, China.

Mr. Bissetti helped run a rather impressive public bamboo garden that is still in operation today. Here is some more information on the original bamboo garden now named the Savannah Bamboo Farm and Coastal Gardens:

The garden's collections began in 1890 when Mrs. H. B. Miller planted three giant Japanese bamboo plants. By 1915 they had formed a bamboo grove, which drew the attention of noted botanist and plant explorer David Fairchild. In 1919 Barbour Lathrop, a friend of Fairchild's, purchased the site and leased it to the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for $1.

Lathrop traveled extensively throughout China and Japan collecting specimens for the garden; the USDA also collected and planted specimens. In 1979 the USDA closed the site. It was deeded to the University of Georgia in 1983 and now forms part of its College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Today the gardens contain more than 140 bamboo varieties, said to be the largest bamboo collection open to the public in North America. Most specimens were planted in the 1920s. It also contains 35 palm species in an effort begun in 1998 by the Southeastern Palm and Exotic Plant Society, as well as collections of vines and daylilies. There are two display gardens:
Cottage Garden - a trial garden where perennials, annuals, and bulbs are evaluated.
Xeriscape Garden - demonstrates low-water landscaping.

Currently, the
Bamboo Farm and Coastal Gardens is currently run by David Linvill, part of the UGA Cooperative Extension.

Couldn't find a good photo of it, but did find this YouTube video that shows off the plant nicely.

This bamboo has simple beauty to it and is a nice overall running bamboo variety. Every plant has a story, even the most modest of them all.

Mad Man Bamboo
(916) 300-6335


Alan said...

Sean -- I'm not sure how good bissetii would be in a pot, as it really produces a lot of rhizomes, at least for me. It seems like the plant would become rootbound after only two years or so requiring dividing or repotting.
It produces a LOT of shoots too, even from a young plant. Really takes the cold too (although I know you're not too concerned with that).

Mad Man Bamboo said...

Hi Alan,

You are right, this is an aggressive species, and a standard glazed ceramic pot could probably last 2 to 3 years. Then the root mass would need to be split to accommodate future growth or upsize the pot. I personally like steel horse troughs as they have a modern style to them and the issue of busting a pot is not a concern. All this said, it underscores that regardless of the container, you do have to prune back the root mass every two to three years to maintain the overall health of the plant (just like you would do with the top growth). Otherwise, a congested, overgrown root mass can be prone to another set of issues. Thanks for your comment, great points. Sean