Definitions

tri'pinnately

Nandina

[nan-dahy-nuh, -dee-nuh]

Nandina domestica (Heavenly bamboo or Sacred bamboo), is a suckering shrub in the Barberry family, Berberidaceae; it is a monotypic genus, with this species as its only member. It is native to eastern Asia from the Himalaya east to Japan. Despite the common name, it is not a bamboo at all.

It is an erect shrub growing to 2 m tall, with numerous, usually unbranched stems growing from the roots. The leaves are evergreen (sometimes deciduous in colder areas), 50-100 cm long, bi- to tri-pinnately compound, with the individual leaflets 4-11 cm long and 1.5-3 cm broad. The young leaves in spring are brightly coloured pink to red before turning green; old leaves turn red or purple again before falling. The flowers are white, borne in early summer in conical clusters held well above the foliage. The fruit is a bright red berry 5-10 mm diameter, ripening in late autumn and often persisting through the winter. The berries are poisonous containing nandenine. The birds are not affected and will disperse the seeds through their droppings. It can be fatal if ingested. All parts of the the plant contains a poisonous substance hydrocyanic acid.

Cultivation

It is widely grown in gardens as an ornamental plant; over 60 cultivars have been named in Japan, where the species is particularly popular. It has become naturalised in parts of eastern South America. In the Southeastern United States it is considered by many as a pest due to its invasive nature. Some even refer to it as Nandina Megalomania or Hitler Bamboo for its unbridled aggression toward other plants, its propensity to conquer the entire yard without provocation, and its seeming immortality.

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