Bamboo Farming USA
 

Phyllostachys nigra 'Henon' - Hachiku - Giant Grey Bamboo

Introduction

When I first began promoting bamboo as a farm crop in the early 1990's, I worked with two groves of henon in Kirkland, Washington, USA. The square footage was 2,000.  I thinned them over several years. Before thinning there were leaners and many yellowish leaves. After thinning, the groves looked green and fresh and the canes were upright. As we thinned the old and weak, we realized that when a new shoot comes up in a crowded grove, it opens its branches only to have them die from lack of sunlight. An unthinned grove is inefficient and messy and congested. We observed that bamboo looks better the more you remove. (To a point, obviously. Usually in an unmanaged grove you can take out half the existing canes or more.)

We sold shoots to a high end restaurant in Seattle. The young chefs were so enthusiastic that they came out to the grove to help harvest shoots and to learn. It was exciting to see their interest in fresh, local and new. We also sold some to a Thai restaurant. I was excited to think they would serve fresh shoots. Come to find out, they did not serve fresh shoots. They saved them to cook for staff after the restaurant closed for the evening.

We tasted the shoots in the field. Raw they were acrid. The more we tasted, the more sensitive our tongues became and the more we tasted the acridity, unpleasant burning taste. In our kitchen, we sliced the shoots lengthwise and stir fried them along with other vegetables. They were delicious. We did not blanch them before stir frying.

Henon starts to shoot when the soil temperature reaches 60°F/15.5C. In my research plots in Georgia, henon stopped shooting at 70°F. In Seattle henon is a good choice for shoots and poles. However, henon (and maybe all bamboos) has a particular time when it shoots. If the weather is rainy and cold and therefore the soil does not warm to 60°F during shooting time, the henon does not catch up later. Delayed springtime warmth, causes reduced yields when the soil finally does warm up. Therefore in cold spring climates like Seattle's (Puget Sound - western Washington), henon must be planted facing south on a soil that will warm up by shooting season.

Henon has good quality poles.

I have two henon research plots in Georgia. One is in Bonaire and one, in Fort Valley. Both groves are poor quality. In Fort Valley the henon grove straddles a dry stream bed. Above the grove runoff from a nursery operation tends to soak the ground. It looks as if the bamboos skidded down the slope to stop just above the stream. Plus it has been dug for stock. There are many unoccupied open spaces in this grove. There are no large canes. In Bonaire, the tops of the canes die back. We are enduring extreme drought and the henon is suffering. However in Seattle it endured summers of less than an inch of rain for the entire summer just fine. I think that this Bonaire henon was planted in a huge pile of leaves and never gets established in the ground. It seems to fall over which is not characteristic of henon or any bamboo. When I started thinning the Bonaire grove to prepare it for harvest the following spring, there were far more dead canes than live ones. Time will tell whether any useful data will come from these sad groves. I would not have chosen to research them if it were not for how excellent the Kirkland, Washington, groves were and how splendid the ones on Avery Island are.

Although the henon in Fort Valley shot one shoot before the vivax, production really did not begin until after the vivax aureocaulis.Perhaps I should have put vivax before henon in these pages under Varieties.


Species Source List - American Bamboo Society - 2011

Max Height feet/meters   65.0/19.8    -   Max diam  inch/cm  4.5/11.4    -    Min TempF/°C  9/-18    -       Full Sun
'Culms totally green, usually much larger than Black bamboo. Distinctive clams are rough to the touch and whitish green.'

Note:   The green of the henon cane is obscured by a grey film in older canes. The film peels off when poles cure. This description is to distinguish henon from the  nigra  color variants, not from other species. 


IDENTIFICATION

P. nigra shoots (P. nigra Bory)

This is P. nigra Bory, not Henon but the shoots have the same sheath leaf so until I get a good henon shoot photo, this will suffice.






 
All the  P. nigra varieties (12 listed in Source List) have the same lavender sheath leaf. The color is distinct and exotic. The sheath blades are crinkled. The auricles and aural setae are purple. The sheath has rusty hairs. Even when the color has faded, you can find a dried sheath leaf in the grove and identify that the bamboo is in the  nigraclan by the crinkled blade and rusty hairs. Often the auricles and oral setae have fallen off of a dried leaf in the grove.
If some canes are black, it is Black Bamboo.  Henon has grey canes; Bory is green with brown spots as in this photo taken at Bamboo Gardens of Washington. Meguro chiku has a brown sulcus. In Bonaire, GA, the Bory is grey with spots that are obscured by the grey coating, unlike the Bory in this WA photo.




Crinkled blades, rusty hairs - Henon at Bamboo Gardens of Washington

People who love bamboo, especially love it during the magic season of its shooting.




Shoots aborted from drought

This photo was taken May 2, 2011 in Bonaire GA . The shoots had been marked with surveyor's tape to grow up and fill the empty space in the grove. The shoots died on the way up. 



Henon Forest in Louisiana

Marler Spence showed me this forest in Louisiana years ago. It covered five acres. You could walk through the forest and sometimes there would be a huge tree trunk. That one tree was tall enough to rise above the canopy of henon. There were no small trees and no underbrush. The henon shaded them out


Hardly a healthy cane to be seen...

Picture
This is the Bonaire grove before I thinned it. There is hardly a vertical cane. Lots of dead poles on the ground.

Healthy henon on Avery Island in Louisiana

Bamboo is a forest grass. It is adapted to grow with trees. Here members of the American Bamboo Society show their love of bamboo at the Annual Conference  in 2011 . The photo was taken on Avery Island. The climbers are James Clever, Noah Bell and Dain Sansome. They shinnied up the bamboo poles.





HERBARIUM

1162103  No Date

Flowers look different between 1162103 and 2241708.
1162103  UNITED STATES NATIONAL HERBARIUM   (STAMPED ON SPECIMEN)
United States National Museum Deposited by the U.W. Department of Agriculture
Was Phy. sulphurea S & C Riviere
now Phyllostachs nigra cv Henon def. FAM can/t read rest\(Japan)
Specimen in full flower. Can't find date.




2241708    1901

Flowers look different between 1162103 and 2241708.
Determined by F.A. McClure 21 iv 62  2241708
Ex. Herb. Tomitaro Makino, Tokyo, Japan
P. nigra Munro var. Henonis Stapf
Japanese Name Hachiku
Locality Okusawa, orv Musashi
Date: 1901  Collector: T. Makino



1064832     1922

PLANTS OF LOUISIANA    1064832
P. nigra var. henonis
culms gray glaucous 1-2 inches in diameter :Mr. McIlhenny's Place Avery Island
19841 AS Hitchcock June 21, 1922



1126299     1898

LABEL ON FOLDER
Phyllostachys fauriei  Hackel
Bull. Herb. Boissier 7:718.1899
LOC. Japan

INSIDE FOLDER
1126299
Hand written: Phyllostachys FaurierFaurie (?) 1586
UNITED STAES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Specimens obtained from Duropean herbaria in 1922 by Agnes Chase, E. herb. Vienna
Japan

HERG. MUSEI HIS. NATUR. VINDOB
(BOTANISCHE ABTEILUND des Naturhis. Museums, Wien)
1586 Faurie
Tsu    19 June 1898 Phyllostachys Farriei Hacd

A note in pencil: off nigra f. henonis

ne label at top of page:  Phyllostacys nirgra (Lo. ex. Lindley) Munro var. hennish )Mitford) Stapf ex Rendle
DE-SHU LI   1999    Kunmin Institute of Botany




2876335     1898, 1999

LABEL ON FOLDER
Phyllostachys henonis Freeman-Mitf
The Garden 47:3. 1895
  Isotype    fragment   LOC        Japan 2876335

INSIDE FOLDER

Photographs of specimens and letters signed by Mitford
Lord Moreton = ABF Mitford

handwriting:  Culms and twigs pale, spathes of inflorescence pale
Tpe of Phyllostachys Henonis Mitf.
NITED STATES NATIONAL MUSEUM
DEPOSITED BY THE U.S. EPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
T = Phyllostachys nigra var. Henonis

UNITED STATES 2876335  NATIONAL HERBARIUM

Phyllostachys nigra (Lodd. ex. Lindley) Munro var. henonis (Mitford) staff. ex Rendle
DE-ZHU LI 1999   Kunming Institute of Botany




2876338     1904?

No photo. 
LABEL ON FOLDER
Phyllostachys henryi Rendle in Forbes & Hemsl., J. Linn. So. Bot. 36:440.1904  (old name for henon)

Isotype   fragment    loc    China 2876338

INSIDE FOLDER
UNITED STATES   2876338
Photograph of original specimen
Hard to decide what to include 
Studies of bamboo types and critical specimens by FA McClure, curator of Economic Botany, Lingnan Naural History Survey and Museum
Phyllostachys Henryi Rendle    TYPE Specimen from Herb. Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Loan No. 227

1904 is likely date


286334  No Date  (1868?)


LABEL ON FOLDER
Phyllostachys stauntoni Munro
trans. Linn. Soc. 26:37.1868
Isotype       fragment    LOC     China       2876334

INSIDE FOLDER
In handwriting: Blades fineely tessellated, strongly beneath, lightly above, the margin scabrous; petiole and along mid nerve first above petiole crisp - pubescent; sheaths very  minutely papillose roughened (under a lens), the summit with fimbriate-cileate firm rim on the collar, the bristles are are shoulders curved and flexuous to 4 - 5 mm long.

UNITED STATES NATIONAL MUSEUM DEPOSITED BY THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE  
China    Phyllostachys stauntonia Munro

Phyllostachys nigra v. henonis (Mitf.) Stapf ex Randle
(Type of P. stauntonii Munro, synonym)
DE-ZHU LI 1999   Kunming Institute of Botany

UNITED STATES 2876334  NATIONAL HAERBARIUM

Only a photograph glued to the page...



2876333    1898, 1999

LABEL ON FOLDER
Phyllostachys veitchiana  Rendle
J. Linn. Soc, Bot. 36:443.    1904
Isotype     fragment     LOC      China             2876333

INSIDE FOLDER
UNITED STATES    2876333    NATIONAL HERBARIUM

UNITED STATES NATIONAL MUSEUM
Deposited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture
In pencil:  China    Phyllostachys Veitchianus Rendle

a photograph of flowers and leaves: in pencil  "Blades lightly tessellate on lower surface, not on upper; margins scabrous. 

later note:
Phyllostachys nigra var. enonis (Type fragment of P. veitchiana REndle, syn)
DE-ZHU  1999     Kunming Institute of Botany



1106936    1915

LABEL ON FOLDER
PHYLLOSTACHYS               nigra

INSIDE FOLDER
UNITED STATES     1106936      NATIONAL HERBARIUM       INVENTORIED
UNITED STATES NATIONAL MUSEUM
DEPOSITED BY THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

HERB. K HISAUGHI, YOKOHAMA
Phyllostachys nigra Munro v. Henonis Stapf
Japanese name      Hachiku
Locality Kamakura        Date 20-2-1915