Eastern Forest Threat Center - Sacred Bamboo, Nandina

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Sacred bamboo leaves and fruits

Sacred bamboo leaves and fruits

James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

Sacred Bamboo, Nandina
Nandina domestica

Sacred bamboo, also commonly known as nandina, is native to China, Japan, and India. It was introduced into the U.S. in the early 1800s and was widely planted as an ornamental. It is now escaping and spreading from the original plantings.

Keywords: Berberidaceae, evergreen, shrub, cane-like stems, flower clusters, red berries, root sprouts; Common names: heavenly bamboo, nandina

Distribution Map Distribution Source Image

Threat Description

Sacred bamboo is an erect evergreen shrub in the barberry family that grows to a height of 6-10 ft. and a width of 3 to 5 ft. The plant has multiple bushy cane-like stems that resemble bamboo. Alternate leaves are bi-pinnately compound dividing into many 1 to 2-in., pointed, oval leaflets. Young foliage is often pinkish, and then turns to soft light green. The foliage can be tinged red in winter. Appearing in early summer are loose, erect, terminal clusters of tiny white-to-pink flowers. If plants are grouped, shiny red spherical berries, 1/3 in. in diameter, follow the flowers in fall and winter. Single plants seldom fruit heavily. Sacred bamboo spreads both vegetatively through underground sprouts from roots and by animal-dispersed seeds. It grows in full sun to shade and prefers reasonably rich soil, but does not thrive in sand. It occurs under forest canopies and near forest edges and can persist as a seedling for several years before maturing. It can displace native species and disrupt plant communities.