Bam-boozled: The Sequel

Almost exactly 3 years ago — on May 21, 2013 — I posted a story about bamboo.

It began:

To the long list of natural disasters afflicting Westport — hurricanes, deer, drivers with no brains — add one more: bamboo.

The imported plant is incredibly invasive. Its stems are dense. Its leaves grow 35 feet or more. It spreads underground, overpowering sidewalks, fences and stone walls.

More bamboo. This is on South Turkey Hill, near the intersection with Green's Farms Road.

Three years ago this healthy bamboo grew on South Turkey Hill, near the intersection with Greens Farms Road.

Caryn Rickel of the Institute of Invasive Bamboo Research (!) told the Connecticut Post, yellow grove bamboo is “the worst alien invader that the USA has ever encountered.”…

The Post story notes that Westport is “home to several astonishing mini-forests of yellow groove bamboo. If your only experiences with the plant are the torches at your neighbor’s tiki party, you’re in for a jaw-dropping experience.”

From Ambler Road to Turkey Hill, Green’s Farms to the shopping center next to Mitchell’s, bamboo was taking over Westport.

That was then. Three years later, alert “06880” reader Art Schoeller writes that since January, as he bikes and drives around town, all he sees is dying bamboo.

It’s happening on his property. It’s happening on Turkey Hill South and Greens Farms Road. Wherever the “worst alien invader” once was, it’s now met its match.

The same intersection above, earlier this week. (Photo/Art Schoeller)

The same intersection above, earlier this week. (Photo/Art Schoeller)

Art does not know the reason. He is sure some bamboo-lovers are upset. Others are thanking whatever god they pray to.

But lurking beneath the surface (ho ho) is this question: Why?

Is this sudden bamboo scourge good? Or — like the great bee die-off — might it portend a great ecological or environmental disaster?

If you know anything about bamboo, click “Comments.” Art — and the rest of “06880” — would love to learn more.

Dying bamboo in Southport. (Photo/Art Schoeller)

Dying bamboo in Southport. (Photo/Art Schoeller)

25 responses to “Bam-boozled: The Sequel

  1. I have seen some dying bamboo in Easton as well. Didn’t notice other dying plants. Will check into it. Interesting. Thanks for posting this, Dan.

  2. Maybe it’s all the Weed B’ Gone I’ve been dumping on these sites everytime I drive by? 🙂

  3. Japan no longer invades its neighboring countries…only its plants do.

  4. Jens Buettner

    “Bamboos usually have a life-cycle of around 40 to 80 years, varying among species. Normally, new bamboos grow up from bamboo shoots at the roots. At infrequent intervals for most species, they will start to blossom. After blossom, flowers produce fruit. Following this, the bamboo forest dies out. Since a bamboo forest usually grows from a single bamboo, the death of bamboos occurs in a large area.” Wikipedia.
    We have a certain species here in the Westport / Weston area, so it concerns the whole species. I had that before in my garden, some species died, why nothing happened to other species, for example the black Japanese bamboo, which by the way is much more beautiful with it’s black stems and not so invasive. The black stems and the green leafs look amazing.

  5. Michael Calise

    I wish my neighbors bamboo which has invaded my property would go back to where it came from

  6. Carolanne Curry

    Bamboo dies off every 100 years is one option.

    Carolanne 203-227-3573


  7. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    My neighbours have the lovely, non-invasive, Japanese black bamboo which not only provides a natural “fence” between us, but has a soothing rustling sound. However, every year at this time the massive (it grows almost a foot each day), alien-looking, Chinese bamboo pops up in my yard (not sure where it came from) and has to be dug out.

  8. Thomas L Broadbent

    I have a small stand of black bamboo as a wind break and privacy wall in a very defined plot on my porch- it made it through all these harsh winters and Sandy, and now it has died after a mild winter- we are mystified!

  9. Nicholas Clarke

    Well, the chinese used to use bamboo as a torture device

    • Bing Perry

      The Chinese also use the bamboo to sky folding in construction site, even today. If you go to Hong Kong, they are everywhere. :)) It’s part of the culture.

  10. Nicholas Clarke

    In China bamboo was once used as a torture device

  11. Bing Perry

    When I first moved here last year, I wanted to have bamboo in my garden and my gardener told me it is illegal now because they are so invasive… And Yes. now in the spring, I look around, it seems most of them turns yellow and dying! Really wondering why?

  12. Lauren de Bruijn

    Are you sure that bamboo is dying? It’s totally normal for bamboo of all types to look very yellow in the spring when the new leaves are forming. Take another look mid June!

  13. Wendy Cusick

    I’m knitting on Bamboo Needles right now.

  14. Donna Tauss

    I have approx 25 year old bamboo, planted by a former neighbor that is dead. Last year I noticed it was merely dead, now it is most sincerely dead. I and the neighbor have mostly contained it to a small area over the years. I wonder if choking the rysome and not letting it spread, kills the main stand?

    I am soooo tired of people saying how terrible and invasive it is, in 25 years it’s barely moved 30 feet. It hasn’t “lifted any sidewalks” or invaded my 80 yr old foundation

    I will miss it…at night the cacophony of bird song when they come to rest, at dawn they wake….

  15. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    I, too, hear and (barely) see hummingbirds hiding in the camouflage of bamboo leaves.