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Giant Cane (Arundinaria gigantea (Walter) Muhl.)

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A bamboo species native to North America, once widespread and a dominant plant in the southeastern U.S., but having declined greatly.

Range - Expand

Native or Not Present

This tentative map is based on our own research. It may have limited data on Canada and/or Mexico, and there is some subjectivity in our assignment of plants as introduced vs. expanded. Read more in this blog post.


Mostly found in bottomlands and flat areas with water-saturated soils, but can be found on mesic to slightly drier sites as well. Usually only a dominant plant in areas prone to fire. It has been hypothesized that this species most inhabited sites transitional between more frequently-disturbed sites (which would favor grasses and sedges) and less-frequently-disturbed sites (which would support closed-canopy forests.)

Switch cane (Arundinaria tecta) is closely related, and has sometimes been treated as a variety of the same species. Similarly, hill cane (Arundinaria appalachiana) was also until recently treated as a subspecies or variety of switch cane.

Numerous other genera belong to the Arundinarieae tribe of the grass family, mostly non-native. Several, including 12 Phyllostachys species, three Pleioblastus species, and Pseudosasa japonica, have been introduced in North America.

There are even more bamboos in the broader Bambusoideae subfamily.

Giant Cane | Fire Effects Information System (FEIS) (About This Site)

Arundinaria gigantea (Giant Cane) | Illinois Wildflowers (About This Site)

Arundinaria gigantea (Giant Cane) | USDA PLANTS Database (About This Site)

Arundinaria gigantea (Giant Cane Bamboo) | Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Finder (About This Site)

Arundinaria gigantea | Biota of North America Project (BONAP) (About This Site)

Arundinaria gigantea | NatureServe Explorer (About This Site)

Arundinaria gigantea | Flora of North America (About This Site)

Arundinaria gigantea | Missouri Plants (About This Site)