Guide to Bamboos in western cultivation
See also: Quick identification by photos Vegetative Key to Cultivated Genera
For cultivated bamboo of Europe, N America, and many other temperate or subtropical parts of the world, the species are slowly being studied to produce an online guide. In an ideal world, this would soon have accurate reliable names, better descriptions that are verified from cultivated plants, and detailed illustrations (close-up photos) of the most important parts of the plant for identification by botanical detail.
Even if not completed, these descriptions will hopefully serve to demonstrate how to identify bamboo genera and species from morphological characters, and they may one day eventually be expanded to represent a reasonable proportion of the bamboos in cultivation. There are considerable constraints here, not least the poor state of the fundamental taxonomy and knowledge of the species in their natural habitats, but sadly also a total lack of commitment from botanical institutions in the UK.
The descriptions were initially being developed for the grasses in the Flora of N America account, and for the Grass Manual on the Web, with help from Mary Barkworth and Lynn Clark, organized by Utah State University. An abridged version, giving only those species naturalised in the US, was published in FNA Vol 24 (10 species from Arundinaria, Bambusa, Phyllostachys and Pseudosasa). That is online in the Grass Manual on the Web, although the bamboos are rather hard to find among the other grasses. Unfortunately the Utah State University project stalled because of a lack of funding, so this website was started, to make use of the descriptions.
A small grant was received in 2009 through the generosity of the Stanley Smith (UK) Horticultural Trust to create this website as a service to horticulturalists, and it is hoped that further support will be found in the future to continue to expand, verify, and improve the taxonomy, descriptions and illustrations.
Meanwhile there are other similar websites with a wider coverage, but less detail, notably Fred Vaupel’s excellent German-language website, several well-illustrated books, and a list of all cultivated bamboos in the US.