...One point is that a lot of these species are probable closely related, and another is , how do we know if we are being sold a distinct species? Have had all of these for long enough for them to develop to semi mature form. ie many culms around 1 in in diameter. I guess we will know when they flower. Thought I'd put this out for discussion. Any difinetive I D tips welcome...
I agree that many bamboos appear to be so similar that perhaps until they flower, they are almost impossible to tell apart. I have gone back and forth trying to identify differences between two adjacent, similar-sized, green Phyllostachys species, frequently without a lot of success. Eventually in the future perhaps DNA identification will be sufficiently common to be able to be able to correctly place the relationships between the various bamboo species.
At the 2005 ABS National Meeting, Noelle Barkley from the USDA–ARS, Plant Genetic Resources Conservation Unit in Georgia made a presentation “Do Not Be Bamboozled by Bamboo: A Molecular Study of the USDA Temperate Bamboo Collection”. This was based on her and others work on studying the genetic diversity of the USDA temperate bamboo collection at Byron, Georgia that was published in Genome 48: 731–737 (2005). “Assessment of the genetic diversity and phylogenetic relationships of a temperate bamboocollection by using transferred EST-SSR markers” by N.A. Barkley, M.L. Newman, M.L. Wang, M.W. Hotchkiss, and G.A. Pederson. Figure 1 of the article in Genome is a dendrogram of the bamboos at Byron showing their genetic relationship based on the markers used in the study.
In general the taxonomy of the various acquistions appeared to be in agreement, however there were some unexpected results. For example one of their samples of Phyllostachys rubromarginata seemed to be a closer match to one of their samples of Phyllostachys flexuosa. A physical examination of the Phyllostachys rubromarginata indicated it was contaminated by another species, most likely from the plot of Phyllostachys flexuosa that was growing next to it.
A surprise, at least to me, was that in this study their acquisition (PI 143540) of Phyllostachys bissetii appeared to be most closely related to their acquisition (PI 75161) of Arundinaria viridistriata which I presume is now Pleioblastus viridistriata. However, I would discount this relationship without more data. The Phyllostachys bissetii also was related to Phyllostachys vivax and one of their acquisitions (PI 546939) of Phyllostachys aureosulcata ‘Harbin’. Their other four acquisitions of Phyllostachys aureosulcata were in a more distant grouping with Phyllostachys meyeri and Phyllostachys arcana. Also related to Phyllostachys bissetii in this study were Phyllostachys dulcis and Phyllostachys elegans.
Their acquisition (PI 128789) of Phyllostachys mannii (do not know if this was Decora, but probably was not) was most closely related to Phyllostachys aurea and less closely to three different acquisitions of Phyllostachys rubromarginata. I am probably reading too much into Figure 1, but the data is interesting; and indicative that a lot more work needs to be done in this area.
Just from the posts in the past on this website I think it is clear there are a lot misidentified bamboos out there. It is not unusual for people here in Texas to say, when trading bamboo, that I got this as “some species name” rather than it is “some species name.” If you have any doubt about the ID of a bamboo there is a high likelihood you are justified in questioning it. I have several bamboos that are still unidentified, waiting for the new shoots to get larger.
Mike McG near Brenham TX