Black Bamboo

Phyllostachys nigra

Family: Poaceae

Type of weed: ,

Priority Weed Local Priority Weed. (See more weeds of the class.)


Habit: Tall evergreen grass with an upright stems growing 3 – 7 m tall. Plants spread rapidly forming loose clumps via creeping underground stems (i.e. rhizomes) that produce upright stems (i.e. canes) from their joints (i.e. nodes).

Stems: Has blackish or purplish-black coloured mature stems that are usually 1 – 4 cm thick. These stems have a distinctive groove running lengthwise from above where the side branches are produced.

Leaves: The leaf sheaths are mostly hairless, except near their margins. Where the leaf sheath meets the leaf blade there is a tiny membranous structure topped with hairs. The leaf blades (6 – 12 cm long and 9 – 15 mm wide) are oblong or elongated in shape, have entire margins, and are mostly hairless.

Flowers and fruits: Flowers and seeds are rarely, if ever, produced.


Running bamboos spread by means of long underground stems which send up multiple shoots. Bamboo is often spread in dumped garden waste. It also spreads laterally from deliberate garden plantings into nearby bushland areas.

Impact on bushland

An invasive weed of riparian vegetation, disturbed sires, waste areas, roadsides, gardens and urban bushland.

Large dense clumps of the Bamboo spread out to form a forest of tall woody grass stems that suppress all other vegetation and block water flows. Bamboo can cover large areas in favourable conditions.

Alternative planting

Native plants

Screening shrubs and small trees such as Hakea, Bottlebrush, Wattles and Tea Trees.

Council provides a tool, on its Mountain Landscapes website, to help you choose native alternative plantings. Choose your village, soil, vegetation community and the purpose of your planting, and the tool will give you suggestions.

There are native nurseries in several Blue Mountains villages, including Glenbrook, Lawson and Katoomba. Please also ask at your favourite local nursery.


  • Manually remove bulbs, corms and tubers
  • Spray
  • Cut and paint

Manual control

Manual removal

Move leaf litter away from base of plant. Dig down next to the stem until the bulb or tuber is reached. Remove plant and carefully bag the bulb or tuber.

Chemical control

Note: Herbicides that may be used for this weed include Glyphosate.


Please consult the Herbicide page of this website to help you decide whether to spray, how to do it safely and more.

Extra considerations for weeds with underground reproductive structures
  • Further digging may be required for plants with more than one tuber. Some bulbs may have small bulbils attached or present in the soil around them. These need to be removed. It may be quicker and more effective to dig weeds out.
  • Learn and understand how the herbicide works. For bulb and corm species the most effective time is after flowering and before fruit has set.

Cut and paint

Applying poison to cut stump from squeeze bottle
Apply poison immediately after cutting

Useful for small to medium sized woody weeds up to 10 cm in diameter.

Make a horizontal cut as close to the ground as possible with secateurs or loppers, and immediately apply concentrated Glyphosate to the exposed stump surface. Do not allow the surface to get covered with soil.

Specific control tips for this weed

Hand Removal: Very small amounts can be dug up by complete removal of rhizomes . This is not appropriate for large areas.

Cut and Paint method: Cut then paint every stem with herbicide (within 20 seconds). Then wait for leaves on regrowth and treat (before it reaches ½ m high) by spraying.

Note: Due to growing the habit of Bamboo, followup treatments are essential.

For key points on these techniques:

Local Priority Weed

Control measures:

  • The plant should be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed.
  • Plants under 4 metres in height should be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed.
  • The spread of this plant should be adequately contained to prevent spread impacting on priority assets. Weed notices will only be issued for these weeds under special circumstances.