Quick Facts

Quick facts

  • Golden Bamboo (Phyllostachys aurea) is a large rhizomatous perennial with branched, woody stems which turn yellowish or greyish with age.
  • Golden Bamboo is native to temperate areas of China and is naturalised in several areas on the central and north coasts of New South Wales and at Moreton in Queensland.
  • Golden Bamboo has proven to be extremely invasive in Australia, spreading by escaping from gardens and through the dumping of garden rubbish containing its rhizomes, and poses a substantial threat to the environment.
  • Plants may be controlled by constructing an underground barrier around them, removing them manually including all rhizomes and roots, and by using herbicides.

What Does It Look Like?

What is it?

Golden Bamboo (Phyllostachys aurea) is a large perennial growing to 8 m tall. It has branched, woody stems that are 20–30 mm in diameter and which turn yellowish or greyish 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 characterized by two unequal branches at most nodes. Each node is separated from the next by a hollow internode (the section of stem between nodes) (Romanowski 1993). Internodes on the lower stems are extremely shortened and asymmetrically swollen to form a zigzag pattern. Mid-stem internodes are flattened on one side, hollow, thin-walled, 8–11 cm long, yellow and smooth. Stem leaves have deciduous sheaths 12–18 cm long, yellow or green, with white hairs at the base. The ligule, the membranous structure between the leaf sheath and the leaf blade, is 1–2 mm long and hairy. Stem leaf blades are lance-shaped, reflexed, 3-6 cm long, flat or wrinkled and deciduous. Foliage leaf sheaths are hairy on the margin. Foliage leaf blades are lance-shaped or oblong, flat, 4-15 cm long, 5-23 mm wide, and joined to the leaf sheaths by short stalks (Wang Dajun & Shen Shao-Jin 1987; Li 1998; Sharp & Simon 2002; Stapleton & Barkworth 2007).

Golden Bamboo flowers at intervals of 15–30 years or more (Jessop et al. 2006). The flower head is comprised of branches of stalked spikelets on an elongate central axis. Each spikelet is surrounded by bracts (modified leaves) usually bearing a small blade at the apex. The spikelets have 2 florets (small flowers) and only the lower one is fertile (Stapleton & Barkworth 2007).

Cultivars of Golden Bamboo in Australia are generally smaller than the Chinese wild-type. These include "Albovariegata" with white-striped leaves, "Flavescens Inversa" with green stems and a yellow stripe in the grooves, and "Koi" which has a green-striped groove (Romanowski 1993).

For further information and assistance with identification of Golden Bamboo, contact the herbarium in your state or territory.

Flower colour


Growth form (weed type/habit)


Where it currently grows? Preferred habitat

Most bamboos require a warm climate, abundant moisture and fertile soil. In its native China, Golden Bamboo grows in temperate areas with an annual rainfall of 1,200–1,800 mm, an annual average temperature of 15–20 °C, between latitudes 25°N and 30°N and a mean temperature in January (mid-winter) of 4–8 °C. It is commonly grown in gardens in Beijing (latitude 40°N) in sheltered positions. Golden Bamboo is hardy and can tolerate temperatures down to -20 °C (Wang Dajun & Shen Shao-Jin 1987).

Are there similar species?

The name "Golden Bamboo" is deceptive as it is only the stems that turn yellow, and then only in the sun. A stand of Golden Bamboo growing so densely that the sun doesn't penetrate will have green stems (Romanowski 1993). Golden Bamboo differs from other species of Phyllostachys, including those with brighter yellow stems, in having a raised collar below the nodes and extremely shortened and asymmetrically swollen basal internodes, forming a zigzag pattern (Stapleton & Barkworth 2007). It differs from Black Bamboo in the colour of its mature stems (immature stems of Black Bamboo are green) and from Giant Timber Bamboo in its shorter and narrower stems (Romanowski 1993).

Why Is It A Weed?

What are its impacts?

The canes of Golden Bamboo are good quality and were used extensively for resilient fishing rods before the days of more elaborate resins. They are also made into long-lasting garden stakes, walking sticks, umbrella shafts, fan handles and pipe stems and used in furniture making and handicrafts. The young shoots of Golden Bamboo are very palatable, raw or cooked (Jacobs & Hastings 1993; Romanowski 1993; Stapleton & Barkworth 2007). 

Native ecosystems: Running bamboo, Golden Bamboo in particular (Romanowski 1993), has proven to be extremely invasive in Australia and poses a substantial threat to the environment. It creates an impenetrable network of roots, heavy leaf litter and dense shade. This weed invades bushland by escaping from properties or being dumped in garden waste. Bamboo infestations can lead to restriction of access to fence lines for maintenance and can present a fire risk (Sydney Weeds Committees 2008).

How does it spread?

Golden 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 (Romanowski 1993). Newly planted Phyllostachys may stay compact and not produce rhizome 'runners' for 6 or 7 years (Romanowski 1993). Dumping of garden rubbish containing rhizome fragments results in spread of Phyllostachys from gardens into the bush and other areas (Sydney Weeds Committees 2008).

What is its history in Australia?

Golden Bamboo was recorded as being naturalised near Windsor, New South Wales in 1971 (National Herbarium of New South Wales 2008). It was also recorded as being a serious weed in a golf course at Toowoomba, Queensland in 1984 (Queensland Herbarium 2008).

How To Manage It?

Best practice management

All Phyllostachys spp. have been declared Class 4 noxious weeds in all councils in the Sydney North region as well as by the Parramatta and Blue Mountains councils. Golden Bamboo (P. aurea) is the weediest of all these species (Romanowski 1993). In order to comply with the Noxious Weeds Act, Bamboo must be prevented from growing within three metres of a boundary fence (Sydney Weeds Committees 2008).

Non-chemical control: Plants may be removed manually by digging out the base of the plant, and removing all rhizomes and roots which should be bagged and disposed of carefully at the tip.

After drying out, the stems can be mulched or placed in green waste for recycling. The site should be monitored for the next few seasons for the reappearance of shoots. Plants that are to be retained must have a method of containment in place to prevent regrowth from occurring (Pittwater Council 2007; Sydney Weeds Committees 2008). An underground barrier should be constructed around all Phyllostachys spp. before planting. Such barriers should extend to a depth of 75 cm, especially for the larger Golden Bamboo (Romanowski 1993).

In the garden, Golden Bamboo can be controlled by cutting the whole plant to the ground every 2 years, preferably in early spring before the new shoots have appeared, and by constructing a substantial underground barrier before planting. Golden Bamboo can be destroyed without poisons by cutting it to ground level for 2 or 3 successive springs and snapping off the soft tops of any new shoots that appear for several weeks afterwards. New shoots should not be allowed to reach over 30 cm or they will harden too much to be easily removed (Romanowski 1993).

Chemical control: Stems can be lopped and immediately painted with a registered herbicide.

Please see the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority at http://www.apvma.gov.au  for chemical information.

Does it have a biological control agent?


When does it grow? (lifecycle/growth calendar)

Golden Bamboo has a very short growing season, being just a few weeks in spring, when new shoots arise from the rhizomes (Romanowski 1993).

There is not a great deal of information available on the flowering and seeding cycles of Bamboo. This is because they flower very infrequently, some only once a century or more (Jacobs & Hastings 1993). Some populations of Golden Bamboo flower relatively frequently (with not all the plants flowering), and other populations flower en masse every 15 to 30 or more years (Jessop et al. 2006).

Where Is It Found?

Which states and territories is it found?


What areas within states and territories is it found?

Golden Bamboo is naturalised in several areas on the central and north coasts of New South Wales and at Moreton in Queensland (Sharp and Simon 2002).

Where does it originate?

Golden Bamboo is native to China. Wild plants still exist in the Zhejiang and Fujian Provinces and are cultivated in Yangtze River Valley (Wang Dajun & Shen Shao-Jin 1987).

National And State Weed Listings

Is it a Weed of National Significance (WONS)?


Where is it a declared weed?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the National Alert List for Environmental Weeds?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the Agricultural Sleeper List?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Names And Taxonomy

Main scientific name

Phyllostachys aurea

Other scientific names (synonyms)?


Does it have other known common name(s)?

Fish-pole Bamboo, Fishpole Bamboo

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