When picking bamboo in Florida, choose a clapper, not a runner

The most common feature of bamboo is that it is part of the grass family. It’s true, but other stereotypes about family are often wrong — or at least vague.

Not surprisingly, botanists recognize at least 1,000 species, although some have put the number closer to 1,600.

As might be expected, there are vast differences between these plants, which range from the 18-inch-tall dwarf bamboo (Pleoblastus pygmaea) to the 100-foot giant bamboo (Dendrocalamus giganteus) of Southeast Asia. By the way, its record height is 164 feet.

But bamboo isn’t limited to Asia: It’s also native to Africa, Australia, and North America—including at least one species in the United States and several in Mexico.

For the Central Florida landscape, the clumping species, which grow as this description suggests, is greatly preferred over the running species, which can be invasive. In addition, the running species grow best in regions with a warm climate.

Here in Florida, many clumping bamboos such as the Mexican weeping bamboo (Otatea acuminata) do well. Contrary to popular belief, they can be slow to get established and grow.

From Plant to Think: Alphonse Carr Bamboo is a variety of Bambusa multiplex from Southeast Asia.  The plants grow quickly and feature attractive striped stems.  Posted by division.

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One of the nine species of Otatea native to Mexico and Central America, Mexican weeping bamboo is remarkable for its graceful appearance. This hardy plant grows 15 to 20 feet tall in sunny, moist, organic locations, working as accents or screens.

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