Black bamboo stems next to young green culms

9 Unique Black Bamboo Species

Black bamboo is the general name for a bamboo species with beautiful black culms, unlike typical green ones. People love the striking look of black bamboo due to its unique exterior.

But what most of us don’t know is that the ebony doesn’t start that way it takes time for them to mature into the black color they are known for. They only give a hint of their dark maturity in their first year of growth, and it will take three years for the culms to darken.

There are numerous forms and cultivars that are perfect for screening, several of which are manageable for all types of gardeners.

What is black bamboo?

These bamboo varieties are about the color of the culm (stem). There are many bamboos with black or almost black culms. Some, like the Phyllostachys nigra are relatively common, others are rare collector’s bamboos, which are more difficult to find.

Black bamboo is fascinating to gardeners because it can be grown both in a container on a balcony or terrace or as a beautiful bed in your garden.

Black bamboo culms with the text 9 Unique Black Bamboo Species o

If you use them to compose a hedge, you can also consider alternating spectacular bamboo culms in different colors.

There are several varieties of Black Bamboo, and yes, there are both clumping and running species. Each bamboo has its unique growing conditions.

Clumping Black Bamboo

Clumping Black Bamboo is ideal for planting around your property because they don’t spread as much. They stay within a certain area (the clump) and grow only a few inches outward every year.

Multiple bambusa lako timor black bamboo, a tropical plants from Indonesia
Bambusa lako (Photo source: Bambooweb)

Bambusa Lako (Timor Black Bamboo)

  • Height: 39-40 ft (12-15 m)
  • Stem diameter: 1-3 in (3-8 cm)
  • USDA Zones: 9-11
  • Hardiness: 25°F (-4°C)
  • Light: Full sun, unless lower than zone 9, where it will need the protection of a larger tree
  • Soil: Well-draining soil
  • Watering: Moderate

This is a popular variety of clumping Black Bamboo that looks amazing in a tropical landscape. What begins as a green culm eventually grows into a rich coffee brown, and then darkens to its signature black.

Timor Black is a large ornamental bamboo with bushy dark green foliage that contrasts wonderfully with the onyx coloring. This species can be planted into narrow garden beds or maintained smaller to suit your needs.

You can plant as a single feature or as a light screening solution. The black culms of these species will eventually fade to a white/grey color as they die off.

A striking plant from Indonesia Very dramatic, all-black tropical bamboo
Gigantochloa atroviolacea (Photo source: Bambooweb)

Gigantochloa atroviolacea (Java Black or Tropical Black Bamboo)

  • Height: 26-40 ft (8-12 m)
  • Stem diameter: 2-3 in (6-8 cm)
  • USDA zones: 10-11
  • Hardiness: 28°F (-2°C)
  • Light: Full sun
  • Soil: Well-draining soil
  • Watering: Regular

Java Black is another clumping bamboo, but bigger and less upright than Bambusa lako. Culms begin as dark green and evolve into a purplish-black with pale white nodes.

An easy way to differentiate Java Black from Bambusa lako is by the rings between the bamboo nodes. While Java Black has thick white bands, Bambusa lako has black thin bands. Java Black is a deep black while Bambusa lako can be a rich eggplant purple.

Close up of culm of two dendrocalamus asper
Dendrocalamus asper (Photo source: Bambooweb)

Dendrocalamus asper (Black Asper or Betung Hitam)

  • Height: 98 ft (30 m)
  • Stem diameter: 11 in (30 cm)
  • USDA zones: 10-11
  • Hardiness: 23°F (-5°C)
  • Light: Full sun
  • Soil: Well-draining soil
  • Watering: Average

This is a black version of the famous Asper bamboo, but it is a rare variety for enthusiasts. It is a non-invasive, clumping bamboo with large leaves, and grows the fastest of all the big bamboo. Also, the shoots are edible and sweet – a delicious touch to an already impressive bamboo.

Once established, this Indonesian bamboo becomes drought-tolerant, able to withstand frost as cold as 23°F. Due to its impressive size, Black Asper looks beautiful as a single feature on a large rural property. In ideal conditions, it can grow to nearly 100 feet (30 m).

Bushy fragesia nitida in a garden landscape behind a house
Fargesia nitida (Photo source: Bamboo Garden)

Fargesia nitida ‘Black Pearl’ (or ‘Blue Fountain’)

  • Height: 10-15 ft (3-4.5 m)
  • Stem diameter: 0.75 in (2 cm)
  • USDA zones: 5-9
  • Hardiness: -20°F (-29°C)
  • Light: Full shade, part shade
  • Soil: Well-draining soil
  • Watering: Regular

Named after the drooping fountain illusion the canes form in maturity, Fargesia nitida is an elegant clumping bamboo with a delicate appearance. They live for an impressive number of years–some as long as over a century. There are several variations of this genus, including the Ravenwood with black, deep-purple stems.

Fargesia nitida is virtually disease-free, making them a great option to grow in your garden. For best results, plant them in a semi-shaded position, since the leaves will curl up in strong sunlight. Fertile, moisture-retentive soils will allow this bamboo to culminate into its full, impressive potential.

Fargesia is a non-invasive bamboo, making it perfect for growing in a pot, on your patio or balcony, or as an addition to your garden.

Dense foliage of fargesia bamboo at a pond
Fargesia nitida ‘Trifina’ (Photo source: Daniel J. Layton )

Fargesia nitida ’Trifina’

  • Height: 9-11 ft (3-3.5 m)
  • Stem diameter: 0.4 in (1 cm)
  • USDA zones: 4-7
  • Hardiness: -4°F (-20°C)
  • Light: Full sun, part shade
  • Soil: Well-draining soil
  • Watering: Regular

Trifina is rugged yet aesthetically pleasing. With its purple-black stems and contrasting evergreen leaves, it’s a beautiful addition to any space or garden.

It may need time to recover from the winter, but in late spring the black stems and shamrock green foliage begin to come out. Eventually, the culms will fade into a near-black color. This beautiful bamboo thrives when isolated, or planted in a bed, terrace, or balcony, making it a great addition to a small space.

Chocolate purple culms of borinda fungosa
Borinda fungosa (Photo source: Bambooweb)

Borinda fungosa (Chocolate Bamboo)

  • Height: 12-20 ft (3.5-6 m)
  • Stem diameter: 1 in (2.5 cm)
  • USDA zones: 8-10
  • Hardiness: 10°F (-12°C)
  • Light: Part shade, light shade
  • Soil: Well-draining soil
  • Watering: Moderate

Borinda fungosa is a beautiful bamboo with unique chocolate-colored canes that begin as a lighter shade and darken with age. Its evergreen foliage and slender leaves are a wonderful complement to any garden or hedge. The culms are often used for weaving, and the shoots are edible and sweet.

Chocolate Bamboo, previously called Fargesia fungosa, is non-invasive, which makes them great for a hedge or screen in its natural or pruned state.

Black bamboo culms with the text Species of Black Bamboo

Black Running bamboo varieties

These Black Bamboo species develop rhizomes under the surface to grow. They are very invasive and need to be contained with a root barrier or within a planter.

Dark, almost black, bamboo canes next to yellow-green bamboo stems
Phyllostachys nigra (Photo source: Fabio Alessandro Locati via Wikimedia Commons)

Phyllostachys nigra

  • Height: 20-35 ft (6-10.5 m)
  • Stem diameter: 2.25 in (5.7 cm)
  • USDA zones: 7-10
  • Hardiness: 5°F (-15°C)
  • Light: Full sun, part shade
  • Soil: Full sun, part shade
  • Watering: High, likely to require supplementary watering in warmer months

Phyllostachys nigra is the king among black bamboos. Prized as a garden ornament with its extraordinary evergreen leaves with tall, refined black canes. Its olive-green culms turn into a deep inky black within 2-3 years.

Due to its impressive size and physique, Phyllostachys nigra makes an imposing addition to any landscape. You should ensure to grow it in rich topsoil composed of manure and mulch. Otherwise, the clusters will grow tightly together with weepy, thin culms. Phyllostachys nigra can be grown in a large area as a garden focal point, or in a pot as an elegant statement piece.

This black bamboo species has some different cultivars which we will be covering next.

Slim young stems of the phyllostachys nigra 'Megurochiku' bamboo that has a black stripe on a sulcus
Phyllostachys nigra ‘Megurochiku’

Phyllostachys nigra ‘Megurochiku’ (Black Stripe Bamboo)

  • Height: 35-45 ft (12.5-13.7 m)
  • Stem diameter: 3.0-3.5 in (7.6-8.9 cm)
  • USDA zones: 7-10
  • Hardiness: 0°F (-20°C)
  • Light: Full sun
  • Soil: Well-draining soil
  • Watering: Regular

Megurochiku is rarer than Phyllostachys nigra. It originated from a Japanese island and was once protected from collection. What begins as an olive-green bamboo blossom into a copper hue with a black internodal groove.

It is similar to Phyllostachys nigra ‘Henon’ in both form and growth habit, and many culms eventually turn completely black. The leaves are feathered and small which makes a great hedge or grove.

Partial shade or full exposure to the sun suits this bamboo perfectly. It is drought-resistant and quite hardy like many P. nigras. However, since it is invasive, it is necessary to install a rhizome barrier.

Bamboo forest with phyllostachys nigra henon (Giant Gray Bamboo)
Phyllostachys nigra ‘Henon’

Phyllostachys nigra ‘Henon’ (Giant Gray Bamboo)

  • Height: 50 ft (15 m)
  • Stem diameter: 5 in (13 cm)
  • USDA zones: 7-10
  • Hardiness: -5°F (-21°C)
  • Light: Full sun, part shade
  • Soil: Moist, well-draining soil
  • Watering: High

Phyllostachys nigra ‘Henon’ is thought to be the species from which Black Bamboo originated. It is an impressively massive and strong bamboo that reaches great heights and has good wood quality. Although it is a P. nigra, it has more distinctive culms that transform into a ghostly gray with time.

Henon is a great choice for anyone seeking to grow a gorgeous bamboo forest, or simply a smaller pot as an accent piece. Either way, this unique bamboo makes a statement wherever it grows.
As you can see, Black Bamboo comes in several wonderful varieties that make it easy to fall in love with each one.

Which bamboo stood out to you? Let us know in the comments below!
Woman (Natalie) and man (James) in front of bamboo
About the Author: Natalie Schneider

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