March 30, 2010

The 120 Year Miracle - Our Bamboo finally Blooms, (and Dies)

Many bamboos bloom, curiously, at the same globally, and we are in a period where many Fargesia nitida populations are blooming, and then, dieing, globally. It's natural,and one of natures wonders.

Fargesia nitida cultivars are available from New England Bamboo Company., where I have purchased many of our bamboo species.

The idea of a Bamboo population dieing may not sound like a bad thing to many people, for any gardener who has suffered above the running rhizomes of any Phyllostachys knows, Bamboos in a controlled garden setting are anything but well behaved. But the genus Fargesia is different, and, rather precious since this particular genus is less likely to run rampantly, and often is called the non-running bamboo. It tends to grow in tight clumps, and had beautiful foliage that on some selected forms, hangs over and cascades, not unlike a waterfall of bamboo.

We have one of these culitvars, undoubtedly an old one since I acquired it at a rare plant auction 20 years ago under the name Fargesia nitida 'Nymphenburg", also known as a 'Blue Fountain' type, of which, there are many named forms today, these older varieties can be traced back to the 1880's to an earlier collection in China. Since Fargesia bloom every 100 to 120 years, and all plants around the world who can trace their roots (rhizomes) back to a mother population, will bloom and perish at around the same time, give or take a few years. Since 1996, old populations of Fargesia nitida have been sharing their global bloom period, and we knew that it was only a matter of time, before out mature specimen decided to call it a day, and join the big Bamboo God in the sky. That day has come.

Now, we share the great Fargesia bloom, with valleys deep in China, with plants at Kew, with massive clumps in Japan and Argentina, here, just after the turn of a millennium, after a long and prosperous life of lending brilliant color and texture to landscapes across Europe and the United States, Fargesia nitida are now in the midst of their 120 year flowering cycle. And saying good bye to us. This first generation of collected forms of F. nitida loved by many, will flower and abruptly perish within the next few years.

I may try to save seed and see if I can start it, but our plant bloomed in the autumn, and seed may have been too frozen, or chilled over the winter. I am OK with this, since our plant was sited poorly, and it's demise will allow me to enlarge the vegetable garden. And, it's a little magical to 'share' a global bloom with Fargesia nitida all over our planet, besides, there is not chance of our population affecting any populations of Panda! For one valley in China saved as a 'reserve' can bloom in one summer if the population originated from one plant, and an entire population of Panda can suffer.


  1. After reading your blog I went to inspect my fargasia which has been growing nicely in the back corner of my yard. Sure enough, it too is flowering. Sad, knowing that it will soon be leaving, but amazing nontheless to witness it happening.

  2. Anonymous5:05 PM

    I just read your article and indeed, even four years after your post, one of my bamboo plants is flowering this year. I am sad at it's now planned demise, considering it was only planted 3 years ago!


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