New bamboo garden: Spectibilis (Spectacular!)

Phyllostachys aureosulcata 'Spectabilis'

P. aureosulcata (‘Spectabilis’) quickly became my favorite bamboo- the stripes, sometimes in a barcode like design, seem painted onto a solid yellow bamboo, make this bamboo so pretty. This post, originally from June 2011 is being updated & moved to April 28, 2012 after a failure to correctly identify this bamboo. I’ll give myself a little slack given there are estimates of 1,000 to 1,600 different species of bamboo in the world.

Phyllostachys vivax 'Aureocaulis' ("Gold Vivax")

Ignoring the name correctly identifying the bamboo at Little Acre Farm, I went with what I was told elsewhere, grabbed a plant, brought it home, all the while convinced I was planting Vivax. Pictures of Vivax, like a photo we found in an article on Philly.com, showed the “bar code” type design on the nodes had me convinced that this bamboo which was growing well in Cherry Hill, NJ must be the same bamboo I had. Aside from the very impressive height Vivax can grow to, I am not at all saddened with the “Spectacular” Spectibilis which I have now.

Spectibilis grows 18′ to 25′ high, with a culm diameter of 1″ to 2″. So, smaller than Vivax (30′ to 65′ high / 2″ – 5″ diameter) but more cold hardy (Spectibilis -10°F vs. Vivax -5°F) which is good – especially for above ground containers / beds. If I can ever talk Jimmy into letting me remove all the Sassafras trees in the back left of our backyard, I will then entertain a Vivax bed. Until then, the smaller spectacular species I have will be just fine.

Sure I have had other bamboo favorites, and still do for other reasons. Yellow Groove was my favorite for it being my first to garden, Arrow bamboo for its very large leaf, Black for the contrast of the light green leaves against black culms–especially in the snow! Bambusoides became a favorite for the diameter the culms can grow to as well as the thick walls that can support it in high wind. The centerpiece bed for the Bambusoides was originally planned to hold Vivax, but that changed when I learned (update: incorrectly learned- Vivax is called Chinese Timber Bamboo!) that Vivax doesn’t have the strong walls and may have trouble in the wind, which is very strong at times in our backyard.

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