My grandfather had a stand of bamboo in his yard for many years. After a while, my parents got a transplant of it into their yard. It didn’t take much for me to get my own transplant at my house in St. Louis. I’ve always been a big fan of the bamboo, but my wife isn’t. She knows that its an invasive species that shouldn’t be in our yard. After many years of questioning what type of bamboo it was, Danelle finally found out for me.
Sadly, it turns out that it isn’t bamboo 🙁 It turns out that it is “Giant Reed”. In order for the rest of the Internet to not make the same mistake, I’m going to plagiarize directly from “A Field Guide to Individual Species”
Name and Family
Giant reed, elephant grass, bamboo reed, arundo grass, giant cane, river cane
Giant reed is a perennial grass that grows over 20 feet high with bamboo or corn stalk like “culms” (stems) topped in late summer by a feathery plume of flowers up to 3 feet long. The creeping root is knotty and .75 to 1.5 inch thick. Culms are hollow with separations at the nodes and can reach a diameter of 1.5 inches. The flat, smooth leaf blades reach up to 1.5 feet long. Flower plumes appear in late summer to early fall.
Habitat and Range
Giant reed has spread across warmer parts of North America from California over to the states along the Gulf of Mexico and eastward into Virginia and south. It grows along riverbanks, streams, and ditches where it finds moist or wet soils to sustain itself.
What it Does in the Ecosystem
Giant reed is a common crop in some countries because under optimum conditions it can produce over 7 tons of biomass per acre (used for paper, fishing poles, mats and weaving, and the reeds of woodwind instruments). It does this by developing a massive root system that will consume some 500 gallons/square yard of water. Where it is not wanted, its aggressive growth has destroyed stands of native vegetation, increased fire dangers, and decreased native wildlife habitat. The firm hold of its root masses on riverbanks tends to fix channels of rivers that have naturally wandered and watered a broad floodplain. Large stands of giant reed change a territory from flood dependent to fire dependent habitat…