Green Tanakae Bamboo with brown spots

Phyllostachys Bambusoides ‘Tanakae’

The brown spots on this bamboo make it look like it’s a leopard. Tanakae is a rare but very ornamental species.

Quick Facts

  • Common name: Tanakae, Leopard bamboo
  • Botanical name: Phyllostachys bambusoides ‘Tanakae’
  • Type: Running
  • Average height: 45 feet (13 m)
  • Average diameter: 3 in (7 cm)
  • Hardiness: -3°F (-19°C)
  • USDA zones: 6b to 11
  • UK Hardiness Zones: H6-H1c
  • Light requirements: Sun or partial shade
  • Best use: Rare, collectors bamboo, ornamental, decorative, woodcraft, musical instrument
USA States map with the USDA Zones 6-11 marked in green
USDA Zones 6-11

What are the features of Tanakae?

The striking appearance of this rare bambusoides bamboo makes it differ from other species. It has straight green culms with purplish and brown spots. These unique spots are the effects of the bacteria called Asteriella hiugensis. It isn’t deadly to your plants. You will notice these spots when your bamboo plants mature. These ornamental spots earned this species the name Leopard Bamboo.

Older culms will turn completely brown/black as the bacteria keeps spreading.

The straight culms of the Leopard bamboo can get up to 45 ft. However, they won’t reach this height in all the USDA zones that are mentioned above. In Zones 6b-7 the plant may grow 20-35 ft. Further South, you may be lucky to experience the full height of it.

How to grow Leopard Bamboo in your garden?

Tanakae bamboo is the hardiest of all bambusoides varieties, except that some damages may happen in harsh winters.

This runner is a fast spreader. If you want to grow Tanakae in-ground, make sure to install barriers so that you stop the spread. Without the root barriers, you’ll cause an invasion that won’t make you or your neighbors happy.

Leopard Bamboo is pretty tolerant of dry conditions and loves the full sun. Therefore, it’s also a good alternative for Black Bamboo.

Why choosing Tanakae?

This rare bamboo species isn’t just a collector’s item, it’s also a highlight.

It is great for privacy screens and can grow in containers.

The culms are really hard, which makes them great for woodworking and wood crafts. Some flutes are made from this very species. When it dries it becomes yellowish-brown and keeps its leopard design. So, you might come up with some creative ideas!

The shoots are edible but they taste bitter. However, some may prefer that.

[Source of featured images: WikiCommons}

Woman (Natalie) and man (James) in front of bamboo
About the Author: Natalie Schneider


  • I live in the UK, where can I get a Phyllostachys bambusoides ‘Tanakae’ – Leopard Bamboo?

    • Hi Sharon, I am not sure. I suppose they don’t have it in the UK.


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