Phyllostachys, a noxious weed?

Regulations saga / Letter to Minister, Aug 2001

Our Request


Mr Bamboo requested removing Phyllostachys bamboo from the NSW noxious weeds list.


Long story short, our request failed

In August 2001, Mr Bamboo requested that the NSW Noxious Weeds Advisory Committee, under the NSW Department of Primary Industries, remove the Phyllostachys genus of bamboo from the NSW noxious weeds list.

The following is our proposal

August 16, 2001

The Hon. Richard Sanderson AMERY

Minister for Agriculture

Dear Minister,

Removal of Phyllostachys spp. from Noxious Weeds List

Mr Bamboo is the premier bamboo growing company in Australia.

By virtue of the inclusion of Phyllostachys on the noxious weeds list of the Noxious Weeds Act 1993, we are prevented from selling our product.

The prohibition on sale, propagation and distribution, applies to all species in the Phyllostachys genus of bamboo.

Phyllostachys was declared noxious because its habits were not understood.

It is currently classified at the same level (W4a) as the most vigorously invasive weeds. These weeds often use highly advanced forms of dispersal – such as birds spreading the weed seed of Lantana – making them almost impossible to control. However, Phyllostachys rarely, if ever, produces seed.

Cuttings will not take from the above ground portion of the plant. Its distribution pattern is quite predictable.

The only method by which Phyllostachys can spread is via the underground stem system, the rhizome.

Japanese research has proved that Phyllostachys rhizome rarely grows deeper than 60cm, never more than 1m. Therefore confinement is possible within the ground. If Phyllostachys is grown in a pot, it cannot escape.

Mr Bamboo was registered as a business in NSW in 1985. At that time, I had recently returned from six months in Japan where I researched confinement of running (invasive) bamboo under Professor Koichiro Ueda, emeritus Professor at Kyoto University. Concurrently, I conducted research at Rakusai Chikurin Koen (Bamboo Park) in Kyoto. I have also published papers in horticultural magazines about confining running bamboo.

Mr Bamboo hosts an influential website, accessed by architects, the landscape industry and the public. At every opportunity we encourage the use of non-invasive bamboo when planted in-ground.

Our publicity is focused on the Eastern States and people are now generally aware of the difference between clumping and running bamboo and can freely access detailed information. Patrons visiting our nursery have invariably researched bamboo on our website, through magazine articles, TV exposure or from the public talks my staff and I have given.

Our business is to advise these people of the most appropriate bamboo for their situation.

Indeed, on occasions, Councils and State Government departments have requested I consult with members of design teams or with weed officers to advise them on appropriate uses for bamboo or on removal of wild specimens.

Part of our business is to supply bamboo to architects and designers on large building developments. We advise on purpose-built planters for bamboo – especially running types. These planters are designed to effectively confine bamboo, ensure safe and positive drainage and to allow for easy removal of the bamboo, should that be required in future.

This service was not available prior to our initiatives.

This same advisory service is offered to our retail customers. In addition, we take the following steps to ensure responsible planting of bamboo.

. Every container of running bamboo sold by us has a sticker saying that the bamboo is for containers and should not be planted in the ground.

. Every client is given a pamphlet detailing the same message.

Our retail customers use running bamboo for privacy screens on balconies and patios. It is the best type of bamboo for this purpose. People love bamboo and will continue to grow it.

Increasingly, in part because of our efforts, fewer people plant Phyllostachys bamboo in the ground.

Yours sincerely,

Greg Braun

Mr Bamboo Pty Ltd