Forest & Kim Starr
Plant Common Name
Black Timber Bamboo, Clumping Bamboo, Timor Black Bamboo
This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.
Newly emerging green shoots of the Timor black bamboo are edible, but allowing the culms to mature to a towering height proves highly ornamental. It’s native to the island of Timor, one of the Lesser Sunda Islands, lying just north of Australia and among the isles of Indonesia. This bamboo is a very tall, clumping bamboo that produces towering, slightly leaning culms. This tree-like grass quickly grows into a loose, non-spreading clump.
All bamboos are grasses with woody-type stems called culms which are divided into sections. Timor black bamboo has wrist-wide, thick but hollow, upright culms that are initially green but then mature with brownish black to shiny black. The emerald green leaves are linear to lance-shaped and produced in pairs, many pairs are crowded on the branches. Contrast the shiny black culms of this species with that of the very similar-looking Javan or Sumatran black timber bamboo (Gigantochloa atroviolacea), which produces aerial roots and has matte-black culms.
Bamboo flowering is unusual, the flowers are similar to other grasses and the fruits grain-like, but the conditions and age of the plant for flowering is not completely understood.
Timor Black bamboo is a tropical grass that grows best in warm, moist, well-drained soil and full sun. It has limited cold hardiness and will survive mild subfreezing temperatures in winter, but sustain progressively more leaf dieback and browning with prolonged cold. The spread of this bamboo is slow, the rhizomes or underground stems grow only a short distance from the clump before sending up new culms. It isn't invasive, but will quickly become a clump of numerous culms. Use it as an accent in a tropical Southeast Asian-inspired garden or as a wind-resistant shade or screening plant in subtropical and equatorial regions.
AHS Heat Zone
12 - 8
USDA Hardiness Zone
9 - 15
H1, H2, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Full Sun, Partial Sun
50'-70' / 15.2m - 21.3m
Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Feature Plant, Tropical
Sharp or Has Thorns