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Nandina domestica

Phonetic Spelling
nan-DE-na do-MES-ti-ka
This plant has high severity poison characteristics.
See below
This plant is an invasive species in North Carolina
Description

This plant is problematic and alternatives should be considered.  Please see the suggestions in the left-hand column.

Heavenly bamboo is a commonly cultivated ornamental upright evergreen shrub in the Berberidaceae (barberry) family known for its beautiful bright red berries and colorful foliage.  This Asian native is aggressive and has a network of rhizomatous stems that have a habit of suckering, and it reseeds itself readily. It naturalizes and establishes dense stands in forest habitats or disturbed sites, especially in the piedmont and mountainous regions of North Carolina, and is considered an invasive species in several states.

It has upright unbranched cane-like growth from 3 to 8 feet tall but can become leggy unless pruned. This plant flowers in the late spring and has ornamental fruits in the fall that persist through the winter months. The new growth is reddish, but the fall foliage of most cultivars is not dependable and varies in one plant seasonally and annually. 

Heavenly bamboo is a native of China and Japan. In the early 1800s, this plant was introduced to North America. It was widely planted as an ornamental but has escaped cultivation. It tends to be invasive in the southeastern United States.

The genus name, Nandina, is the Latin form of the Japanese name for this plant, Nanten. The specific epithet, domestica, means domesticated.

Heavenly bamboo can grow in full sun to shade and a range of soil types, but it prefers moist, well-drained, fertile soil. It is adaptable to extremes of soil and exposure. The foliage prefers full sun and some afternoon shade. More fruits are produced when this shrub is planted in groups. It is drought-tolerant, shade tolerant, slightly salt-tolerant, and particularly resistant to damage by deer.  This shrub is evergreen in plant hardiness zones of 8 to 10. In colder climates, it may be considered semi-evergreen to deciduous. 

The foliage and ornamental berries add interest to the landscape, especially in mass plantings; however, the berries are toxic to humans, livestock, horses, cats, dogs, and birds such as Cedar Waxwings. The berries contain cyanide and when consumed in quantity can be toxic.

Because this plant has a tendency to be invasive and considering its toxicity, if ingested by pets or children, it may be best to consider an alternative shrub. Consider one of the non-flowering cultivars such as Firepower or perhaps an ornamental shrub native to the United States such as the American Beautyberry, Buttonbush, native viburnums or Winterberry.

Seasons of Interest:

Bloom:  Spring         Foliage:  Year-round in Hardiness Zones 6 to 9     Fruits:  Fall and Winter

Quick ID Hints:

  • Terminal cluster of bright red berries
  • Medium evergreen shrub with cane-like growth
  • Decompound leaves, 1-2' long
  • Reddish new growth and fall foliage

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: This shrub has no serious insect or disease problems. Invasive

VIDEO created by Andy Pulte for “Landscape Plant Identification, Taxonomy, and Morphology” a plant identification course offered by the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Tennessee.

 

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscapes:
Asian Garden- Japanese Four-Season Garden Back of House Planting Storage Cottage
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Atropurpurea Nana', 'Fire Power', 'Flirt', 'Gulf Stream', 'Lemon Lime', 'Nana', 'Nana Purpurea', 'San Gabriel', 'Sunray', 'Wood's Dwarf'
Tags:
#evergreen#showy flowers#invasive#poisonous#drought tolerant#wildlife plant#weedy#salt tolerant#showy leaves#fall interest#high maintenance#showy fruits#small mammals#fast growing#cpp#aggressive#deer resistant#naturalizes#disturbed areas#fantz#problem for cats#problem for dogs#problem for horses#heavy shade tolerant#landscape plant sleuths course
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Atropurpurea Nana', 'Fire Power', 'Flirt', 'Gulf Stream', 'Lemon Lime', 'Nana', 'Nana Purpurea', 'San Gabriel', 'Sunray', 'Wood's Dwarf'
Tags:
#evergreen#showy flowers#invasive#poisonous#drought tolerant#wildlife plant#weedy#salt tolerant#showy leaves#fall interest#high maintenance#showy fruits#small mammals#fast growing#cpp#aggressive#deer resistant#naturalizes#disturbed areas#fantz#problem for cats#problem for dogs#problem for horses#heavy shade tolerant#landscape plant sleuths course
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Nandina
    Species:
    domestica
    Family:
    Berberidaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Central and Southern China and Japan
    Distribution:
    Native: China North Central, China South Central, China Southeast, and Japan. Introduced: United States--AL, AR, FL, GA, LA, MD, NC, SC, TN, and TX; Italy, Korea, New South Wales
    Wildlife Value:
    Birds and small mammals eat the fruits.
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Damage by deer.
    Edibility:
    Berries are poisonous if ingested.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 3 ft. 0 in. - 8 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 2 ft. 0 in. - 5 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Poisonous
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    High
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    3 feet-6 feet
    6-feet-12 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Good Cut
    Long-lasting
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Winter
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    In the fall, this plant produces bright red, round berries on large terminal panicles that persist through the winter. The berries are 8 mm in diameter. Each berry contains two seeds.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Panicle
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The flowers are white with yellow anthers, measure 5 to 13 mm in diameter, and bloom in late spring. They grow on erect terminal panicles between 10-12 inches long.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Blue
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leathery
    Smooth
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Good Cut
    Long-lasting
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Lanceolate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are alternate, bi- to tri-pinnately compound, evergreen, and 1-2 feet long. The leaflets are 0.75 to 3 inches long, elliptic-lanceolate, entire, bluish-green, and glabrous. In the spring the leaves are red to bronze. During the summer they become bluish-green and then change to purplish-red in the fall.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Attracts:
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Heavy Shade
    Salt
    Problems:
    Invasive Species
    Poisonous to Humans
    Problem for Cats
    Problem for Children
    Problem for Dogs
    Problem for Horses
    Weedy
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    High
    Poison Symptoms:
    Hydrogen cyanide is highly poisonous if ingested. Berries are toxic to humans, cats, dogs, livestock, horses, and birds such as the Cedar Waxwing. Weakness, incoordination, seizures, coma, respiratory failure, and death can occur from ingestion.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Cyanogenic glycosides
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Fruits