Earlier studies showed that local people benefit by harvesting culms of the “climbing bamboo” Flagellaria guineensis from Transkei Coastal Forests in South Africa. However, little is known about the regeneration ecology of this species that often forms tangles in forest stand conditions. This study assessed the regeneration ecology of F. guineensis in different forest stand conditions (forest gaps and edges, and closed canopy stands). Intensity ratings were applied to determine the monthly phenological states, i.e. presence and amount of phenological stages in Bulolo and Mtambalala Forests. Relatively few flowers and fruits were seen; in Mtambalala only during the rainy season and in Bulolo during the rainy and dry seasons. Regeneration (seedlings, shoots from rhizomes and at growing tips) was constant during the 12-month study period in both forests. This suggested that during the study period, this climbing bamboo was in an active vegetative growth stage but not in a reproductive stage. Culm development in forest stand conditions in Mnenga, Mtambalala and Manubi Forests showed significant differences (P ≤ 0.05) in cluster diameter, culm diameter and culm length but not in the number of culms per cluster (P > 0.05). Mean cluster and culm diameters were highest in Manubi (185.5 and 1.0 cm) and lowest in Mnenga (64.1and 0.8 cm). The longest culms were recorded in Manubi (11.1 m). Culm diameter and length differed significantly (P ≤ 0.05) between forest stand conditions, but not cluster diameter and culm numbers (P > 0.05). Culm numbers were not significantly related to cluster diameter; similarly culm length was not related to culm diameter. Flowering and fruiting of F. guineensis differed between seasons and sites, and culm development is influenced by forest stand conditions and differed between forests. Recommendations for more sustainable harvesting of culms for basket-making included focusing on tangles in tree crowns to be harvested during the dry season with minimal flowering or fruiting, further studies on growth of seedlings and shoots into the forest canopy, and productive cultivation of this climbing bamboo outside the forest.