|Flowering of Bamboos|
One of the mysteries of bamboo is how some species are able to flower periodically all over the world at the same time. This is called “gregarious flowering.” This was the case with Phyllostachys bambusoides when it flowered during the 1970's, as it has done every 120 years through recorded bamboo history. Being an important timber variety, records of its flowering go back many centuries. To our knowledge, no one knows what triggers the flowering. While the flowering of some bamboos is periodic, others seem to be triggered by environmental conditions such as drought or stress. We do not sell plants that we know to be going into "gregarious flowering" stage, however we also do not have records adequate to predict when most species will flower. Flowering of the individual plant may continue for 2 to 7 years and is often fatal, but with extra care and feeding, the mother plant may survive and just be smaller. In addition, the numerous seeds may be planted and will reproduce the mother plant identically or produce new and interesting variations. By the time the mother plant finishes flowering, you may already have new seedlings well on their way!
Bamboos belong to the grass family, and their flowers look a lot like the flowers of other grasses, usually nothing spectacular, but quite varied. Traditionally, botanists describe species on the basis of their flowers. Because the flowering interval of some bamboo species is so long, botanists in the field often have difficulty finding flowers and defining species on that basis. This sometimes results in multiple names for the same plant and a great deal of confusion. Promising genetic research and international cooperation should help clarify the situation.
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