What is Bamboo?
Bamboo is non-native to the UK and was first introduced to our shores in the 1800’s as an ornamental plant. There are more than a thousand variants of bamboo, however these can broadly be grouped into two categories; ‘clumping’ & ‘running’. This grouping refers to the nature of the plants rhizome system, the stem-like root network that grows underground. Put simply, the root network for clumping variants of bamboo tend to have shorter root systems that stay closer to the plant of origin, whereas running variants tend to grow more rapidly over larger horizontal areas. Running variants of bamboo typically cause the greatest issues, as they have a tendency to spread and appear in areas where they are not wanted.
Why is it a problem?
Bamboo is a vigorous, fast growing invasive that can cause a lot of problems. It can become a persistent nuisance for land owners, with the plant appearing and reappearing in unwanted areas of gardens. It is also capable of causing damage to underground infrastructure (eg. drainage networks), hard surfaces (eg. patios, slabbed areas, etc) and building structures (through the application of direct pressure).
How does it spread?
It is very hard for bamboo to spread by seed and the main mechanism for spread is the plants rhizome system. This results in the control and removal of rhizome propagules being the focus of bamboo management.
In Scotland, bamboo is controlled under the Wildlife and Natural Environment Act 2011, which states that it is an offence to release or cause the release of any plant to a place outside of its native range. Put simply, if you allow bamboo to spread from your land, you could face significant penalties and fines.
Despite being recognised as one of the UK’s emerging invasive threats, Bamboo can still be bought in garden centres up and down the country. It is not an offence to buy, sell, or plant bamboo in your garden – not that we would ever recommend doing so!!
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