Heavenly bamboo is an evergreen shrub with compound, somewhat lacy leaves and sprays of red berries that persist through the winter. Its multistemmed, canelike clumps make it superficially resemble bamboo.
Leaves are alternate, large, two- or three-times compound, mostly clustered toward the top of the woody stems. Young foliage is often pinkish, turning soft light green. Except in the coldest temperatures (below 10F), the leaves don’t drop; they stay green all winter and are often tinged with red. Individual leaflets are 1–2 inches long, lance-shaped or oval, with a pointy tip.
Flowers in early summer with erect, 6–12 inch long clusters of tiny pink to white flowers. The resulting clusters of shiny, red, two-seeded berries persist from fall to spring.
Many cultivars are available having more or less reddish leaves, smaller overall size, and so on. These are currently very popular in garden centers. We urge you to try a native-species alternative.
Similar species: The shoots superficially resemble those of bamboo, but true bamboo is a grass and does not have compound leaves.