Berg bamboo (Thamnocalamus tessellatus)

Berg bamboo clump
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Berg bamboo fact file

Berg bamboo description

GenusThamnocalamus (1)

This bamboo species forms tight clumps (2) of yellowish-green stems, known as culms (4). The culms turn dark purple in the upperparts and are segmented with regularly spaced growth rings (4). The long and narrow leaves are dark green (3).

Also known as
Bergbamboes, mountain bamboo.
Height: up to 5 m (2)
Stem diameter: 2 – 3 cm (2)
Leaf length: 8 cm (3)
Leaf width: 1 cm (3)

Berg bamboo biology

Berg bamboo reproduces sexually only rarely, by flowering and dropping seeds. In the intervening years, it reproduces asexually, spreading through rhizomes.


Berg bamboo range

The only bamboo native to South Africa, berg bamboo is found throughout the Drakensberg region from the Biggarsberg summit in the north to the Winterberg summit in the south (5).


Berg bamboo habitat

Growing at altitudes of 1,200 to 2,400 m above sea level, berg bamboo is found in the fynbos ecosystem, which is characterised by reeds and heaths. It prefers river and cave edges (5).


Berg bamboo status

Berg bamboo is listed on Annex II of the 1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants (1).


Berg bamboo threats

As part of the unique fynbos ecosystem found in South Africa, berg bamboo is threatened by the spread of introduced plant species, including the Australian wattle, Port Jackson and European pine species. It is also at risk from the increasingly frequent fires, from which the fynbos species cannot quickly recover. Additionally, commercial development and afforestation fragment and destroy areas of fynbos containing berg bamboo (6).


Berg bamboo conservation

Fynbos regions require protective legislation and would benefit immensely from designation as protected areas and management of introduced plant species. Increased public and landowner awareness and the promotion of ecotourism will both contribute to the conservation of fynbos and of berg bamboo (6).



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Of asexual reproduction: reproduction that does not involve the formation of sex cells (‘gametes’). In many species, asexual reproduction can occur by fission (or in plants ‘vegetative reproduction’); part of the organism breaks away and develops into a separate individual. Some animals, including vertebrates can develop from unfertilised eggs, this process - known as parthenogenesis - gives rise to offspring that are genetically identical to the parent.
Thickened, branching, creeping storage stems. Although most rhizomes grow laterally just along or slightly below the soil's surface, some grow several inches deep. Roots grow from the underside of the rhizome, and during the growing season new growth sprouts from buds along the top. A familiar rhizome is the ginger used in cooking.


  1. Gillett, H.J. and Walter, K.S. (1998) 1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants - Compiled by the World Conservation Monitoring Centre. IUCN - The World Conservation Union, Gland, Switzerland.
  2. Bamboo Garden Nursery (May, 2005)
  3. Bamboo Giant Nursery (May, 2005)
  4. Jungle Giants Bamboo Specialists (May, 2005)
  5. Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (May, 2005)
  6. University of the Western Cape – Enviro-facts Guide to Fynbos (June, 2005)

Image credit

Berg bamboo clump  
Berg bamboo clump



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