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Nandina domestica

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Kemper Code:  C772

Common Name: heavenly bamboo
Zone: 6 to 9
Plant Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Berberidaceae
Missouri Native: No
Native Range: India to Japan
Height: 3 to 8 feet
Spread: 2 to 4 feet
Bloom Time: June   Bloom Data
Bloom Color: White with yellow anthers
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium

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Plant Culture and Characteristics

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Where is this species invasive in the US?

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  Uses:       Wildlife:   Flowers:   Leaves:   Fruit:
Hedge Suitable as annual Attracts birds Has showy flowers Leaves colorful Has showy fruit
Shade tree Culinary herb Attracts Has fragrant flowers Leaves fragrant Fruit edible
Street tree Vegetable   hummingbirds Flowers not showy Good fall color   Other:
Flowering tree Water garden plant Attracts Good cut flower Evergreen Winter interest
Gr. cover (<1') Will naturalize   butterflies Good dried flower     Thorns or spines

General Culture:

Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Some tolerance for full shade, but foliage often grows best in full sun with some afternoon shade. Tolerates a wide range of soils, but prefers moist humusy ones. Best fruiting occurs when grown in groups. Single specimens may fruit poorly. This shrub is evergreen in the warm winter climates of USDA Zones 8-10. In the St. Louis area, it is considered to be semi-evergreen to deciduous because plants will typically lose their foliage (becomes deciduous) as soon as winter temperatures dip below 10 F., with the stems sometimes dying to the ground. Plants are not reliably winter hardy to the St. Louis area, and if grown therein, should be sited in protected locations with organic winter mulches applied.

Noteworthy Characteristics:

As an ornamental plant, heavenly bamboo is primarily grown for its interesting foliage and its often spectacular fruit display. This is a rhizomatous, upright, evergreen shrub that typically grows to 4-8 tall and to 2-4 wide. In St. Louis, it is semi-evergreen to deciduous and typically grows shorter since the stems often will die to the ground in winter. Plants may also be kept more compact through pruning. Although it belongs to the Barberry family, it is commonly called heavenly bamboo because its erect, cane-like stems and compound leaves resemble bamboo. Plant stems are clad with lacy compound leaves (to 20 long), each leaf being divided into narrow, oval, leaflets (each leaflet to 1-3 long). Leaves emerge coppery in spring, turn green in summer and finally change to reddish-purple in fall. Tiny whitish flowers with yellow anthers appear in late spring in loose, erect, terminal clusters (6-12 long). Flowers are followed by heavy sprays of spherical, two-seeded, red berries (each to 1/3 diameter) which persist from fall to spring, providing winter interest. Weight of the fruit sprays often causes the branches to arch downward. Unfortunately, heavenly bamboo tends to invade adjacent lands including certain forested areas of the southeastern U. S. and naturalize therein. It is now considered to be an invasive species in some southern states.


No serious insect or disease problems. Foliage may develop chlorosis in alkaline soils. Plants tend to be invasive in the South.


Plant form, foliage, fall color, spring flowers and fruit make this an interesting ornamental for the landscape. Group or mass for best effect. Shrub borders or open woodland gardens. Foundations. Good in informal settings. Can be used as an informal hedge in warm winter climates where it remains evergreen and does not die to the ground.

Missouri Botanical Garden, 2001-2011

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