Plant: Sacred bamboo or nandina (Nandina domestica) is a bushy evergreen shrub from East Asia and India.
Identification: Sacred bamboo is an erect, multi-stemmed, bushy, evergreen shrub that can grow up to 8 ft tall. Main stems have overlapping sheaths that give a comparable resemblance to bamboo. Stems are fleshy and greenish gray near terminal, becoming tan to brown and woody with fissures toward the base. The wood is bright yellow. Branches are whorled up the stem and tightly stacked near terminals. Large, bipinnately compound leaves on long, slender, reddish leafstalks resemble leafy branches. Nine to 81 glossy green to red tinged or burgundy leaflets are lanceolate to diamond-shaped and generally 0.5 to 4 inches long and 0.4 to 1.2 inches wide. Abundant, fragrant flowers appear from May to June on terminal panicles 4 to 10 inches long. Flowers are pink in bud, opening to white or cream petals with yellow anthers. From September to April, light green, fleshy berries 0.2 to 0.3-inch-long grow in dense terminal clusters that ripen to bright red in winter.
Ecology: Sacred bamboo is shade tolerant and occurs under forest canopies and near forest edges. Commonly planted around old homes, they escaped having various cultivars of diverse leaf colors. It colonizes by root sprouts and spreads by animal-dispersed seeds. Seedlings are frequent near plantings. Some cultivars do not produce viable seeds.
Herbicide Control: Apply from August to October a 41% active ingredient of glyphosate herbicide (Accord, Razor, or Roundup Original) as a 1% solution (4 ounces per 3-gal. mix) in water with a surfactant (methylated seed oil, crop oil, or basal oil) at a 1% solution (4 ounces per 3-gal. mix) on plant to thoroughly wet all leaves. Apply 60+% active ingredient of triclopyr (Garlon 4, Remedy, or Tahoe 4E) as a 20% solution (5 pints per 3-gal. mix) in water with a surfactant containing a penetrant at a 1% solution (check with herbicide distributor) or apply undiluted Pathfinder II to young bark as a basal spray. Cut and immediately treat large stems with a 42+% active ingredient of imazapyr (Arsenal AC, Vanquish, or Polaris AC) as a 10% solution (1 quart per 3-gal. mix) or a glyphosate herbicide (if safety to surrounding plants is desired) as a 20% solution (5 pints per 3-gal. mix) in water with a surfactant at a 1% solution.
Warning: Herbicides containing the active ingredient imazapyr will damage plants with roots in the treated area. Always read and follow label directions carefully.
Photo and Text Credit: (A Field Guide for the Identification of, A Management Guide for) Invasive Plants in Southern Forests, James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, 2010, ForestryImages.Org