Phyllostachys edulis

Phyllostachys edulis

Phyllostachys edulis or moso bamboo is the only hardy giant bamboo. It is also one of those fast growing species that can grow 1 m in 24 hours in its habitat.

Though it is a giant bamboo that can reach over 20 m high, it usually doesn’t get this big in colder climates: 7-8 m in about 15 years if well watered and fed.

The strain is important as well: offspring from hardy specimens are usually equally hardy. So be sure to select seeds or shoots from plants with proven hardiness.

It is also important to know that it might take more than 10 years before you get a decent height that qualifies as giant.

As a rule of thumb: plenty of fertilizer, plenty of water and a nice warm spot will encourage growth.

Not that it stopped me from ordering seeds…

Important remark:

Once established, this bamboo spreads easily, both by seed and its running rhizome.

It can be invasive and needs to be controlled by installing a rhizome barrier or regular pruning of the rhizomes.

Description:

Phyllostachys edulis is an evergreen, fast growing bamboo. It is running and shallow-rooted.

The culms grow up to 20 m or more and to 20 cm in diameter. They are blue green and turn yellow with age. The internodes are about 40 cm long, shorter and swollen in the lower part of the culm. Initially white powdery, densely pubescent. The culms are densely pubescent to hairy, covered with white powder. The nodal ridge is inconspicious at nodes without branches, more prominent at branched nodes. The wall is about 1 cm thick.

The culm sheath is yellow brown or purple brown, covered with brown hairs. Emerging shoots are covered with brown, hairy sheaths.

Leaves appear on terminal branches, 2-4 leaves per branch. They are light green, 4-11 cm long and 0.5-1.2 cm wide.

Flowers are hermaphrodite and appear on spiky branchlets. Flowering occurs every 50-100 years. The plant does not die after flowering nor do all individuals flower simultaneously, like with many other bamboo species.

Phyllostachys edulis

Phyllostachys edulis

Usage:

  • ornamental
  • food: young shoots are edible
  • wood: used for eating utensils, brooms, poles, water pipes, umbrellas, scaffolding…
  • medicinal

Nomenclature:

Common names:

Moso bamboo, tortoise-shell bamboo

Synonyms:

Bambos moosoo, Bambusa heterocycla, Bambusa pubescens, Phyllostachys edulis var. heterocycla, Phyllostachys heterocycla, Phyllostachys heterocycla var. pubescens, Phyllostachys pubescens, Phyllostachys pubescens var. heterocycla

Etymology:

Phyllostachys: from Ancient Greek phúllon (leaf) and stákhus (ear of grain)
Edulis: from the Latin edūlis (edible)
Moso: from the Chinese words Mao Zhu (hairy bamboo)

Origin:

China, now widely cultivated in East Asia and Europe



Habitat:

Mountain slopes; below 1.600 m or more

Hardiness:

USDA zone 6-10 (ideally USDA zone 8-9)

Phyllostachys edulis shoot

Phyllostachys edulis shoot

Care:

Soil:

Light to heavy

Light:

Sun, partial shade

Water:

Keep soil constantly moist

Feed:

Fertilize abundantly during the growing period, with organic matter or fertilizer

Propagation:

Seed, division in spring, basal cane cuttings in spring

Sowing instructions:

  • surface sow in moist sowing substrate
  • 20 °C
  • keep moist
  • germination time: 2 weeks up to 3-6 months

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