Bamboo sightings around town

On Saturday morning I took advantage of the crisp but sunny weather to walk around the residential area adjoining the campus of UC Davis. I had recently spotted some bamboos from the car and wanted to take a closer look. Bamboo still isn’t used as much for landscaping as it should be; that’s why I get excited when I come across a planting.

The first stand I found was on a property that is clearly a student rental. I wasn’t able to positively identify it, but it’s definitely a Phyllostachys, a running bamboo that can get out of hand if not properly cared for. (The culms looked like black bamboo, Phyllostachys nigra, starting to darken in its second season, but I couldn’t find any all-black culms.)


While the bamboo was growing on both sides of the fence, I didn’t seen any runaway culms so somebody must be maintaining it at least occasionally.


The house in the next photo is just around the block from the first one. It’s on a corner lot and the bamboo is visible from a block away. I love how it completely encloses the front yard with a lush screen of green.


This is a Phyllostachys as well; in fact, it looks like it’s the same species as the one on the first property—black bamboo that doesn’t quite go black. However, the leaves look a little too large for Phyllostachys nigra.


No matter what species of bamboo it is, the overall effect is elegant and beautiful.


The next bamboo sighting was at Delta of Venus Café, a popular eatery and music venue in downtown. One end of their outside seating area is flanked by a row of half barrels filled with golden bamboo (Phyllostachs aurea).


The other end is screened in by arrow bamboo (Pseudosasa japonica) planted in the ground against a fence. Arrow bamboo is a running bamboo but it is clear that somebody is keeping it confined to this narrow space.


For a very casual café with a beachy look, I think bamboo is perfect. It gives privacy and creates a relaxed tropical ambience.


The last set of photos were taken at the playground of the Center for Child and Family Studies (CCFS), a nursery and preschool on the edge of campus that serves as a model early childhood program and research lab for UC Davis faculty and students. Our older daughter went there as a preschooler, and I fondly remember their gigantic outdoor playground. I don’t remember the bamboo, however; it is possible they planted it when they remodeled the facility.

Unlike the running bamboos found at the locations above, CCFS planted only clumping bamboos. The variety with golden culms on the left is Bambusa multiplex ‘Alphonse Karr,’ and the variety on the right is giant clumping timber bamboo, Bambusa oldhamii.


This row of bamboos screens off the busy street on the other side of the fence and creates an almost jungle-like atmosphere that I’m sure the nursery and pre-school children love.



  1. Just shows how well used bamboos are in your area! Those big specimens makes the area they are planted in look so tropical and exotic :)

  2. That bamboo looks so great with the red brick below it! Is it henon? The close-up photo seems to show some grey culms which may indicate henon.

    Is it just me, or does the aurea in the pots look a bit unhappy?

  3. Mark and Gaz, I agree! I just wish we'd start seeing bamboo in more public spaces.

    Alan, I thought of Henon, too, but I'm no Phyllostachys expert so I wasn't sure. And doesn't Henon get much bigger? These plantings looked fairly established.

    The potted Phyllostachys aurea does look a bit starved but I actually like the yellowish leaves. By early spring they should be green again, especially if it ever decides to rain.


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