Tall straight bamboo canes in a bamboo forest

Phyllostachys Bambusoides

Looking for a majestic, straight timber bamboo? Then this will be it!

Quick Facts

  • Common name: Madake, Giant Timber Bamboo, Japanese Timber Bamboo
  • Botanical name: Phyllostachys Bambusoides
  • Type: Running
  • Average height: 50 ft (15 m), max. 70 ft (22 m)
  • Average diameter: 6 inches (15 cm)
  • Hardiness: 5ºF (-15ºC)
  • USDA zones: 7 to 10
  • UK Hardiness Zones: H5-H2
  • Light requirements: Full sun to shady areas
  • Best use: Decorative purposes, commercial use, woodworking, music instruments, edible shoots
USDA Zones 7-10 highlighted in green on a USA map
USDA Zones 7-10

Characteristics of Phyllostachys Bambusoides

Phyllostachys Bambusoides is originated in China but common in Japan. It is also produced internationally in the US and Australia. This evergreen bamboo came from the Poaceae family. They are grown for their commercial and decorative purposes. This giant timber bamboo is an intrusive running bamboo. It tends to expand quickly if not managed properly. 

Strong culms

Look at the charming glossy green, smooth, and thick culms. It grows upright and doesn’t lean towards the sun unlike other bamboos do. Fresh culms normally appear in late spring. They increase quickly at the speed of up to 40 inches (101 cm) every day. The ordinary life span is around 20 years which is more than double than other Phyllostachys species.

The branches are mostly at the top when it matures which gives it a rather tree-like look. You may also see some branches lower but it’s rarer.

Elegant leaves

Madake has medium-sized and drooping leaves. Its leaves are expected to grow all year round. 

Edible shoots

The young shoots can be eaten boiled just like ordinary vegetables. They may taste a little bit bitter when uncooked. The bitterness will disappear after boiling. The shoots are expected to emerge every springtime.

You should harvest the shoots in spring when they reach around 3 inches (8 cm). Cut them around 2 inches (5cm) below the ground. The shoots are packed with 2.1% protein, 3.2% carbohydrate, and only  0.3% fat.

Lovely flowers

Madake has the most lasting flowering period of nearly 130 years. This makes them distinct from other species. In 1970, there were mass flowering reports in the United States. As a result, Madake groves died from this massive bloom. Botanists are still wondering why this happened and there are no conclusive theories made yet. The next flowering season is estimated to be in 2085. 

Uses and benefits

Because of the stem, it is a very desirable bamboo for construction and woodwork.

The traditional Shakuhachi flutes are made from Madake. Japanese use it as a tool for Buddhist meditation. These flutes are also widely known by some professional musicians in classical and jazz music.

Parks and wide gardens have Phyllostachys Bambusoides. It serves as an ornamental plant because of its beauty. It grows even tall (although not to its maximum height) in temperate places all over the world. 

Proper care for Madake Bamboo

This type of bamboo loves the sun, water, and moisture. Don’t forget the drainage though. They can also grow in shade but they won’t grow as big as those grown in full sun. They will only reach up to 35 feet (10 m) if not planted in the right environment. 

Expect low maintenance with this bamboo. All you need is a little supervision on its first year when it’s very crucial to water it a lot.

Container gardening is another way to set up these bamboos.

Do not prune the lower parts if you want a denser privacy screen. 

It is a hermaphrodite species that are pollinated by wind. It grows in almost any kind of soil, although it prefers moist soil like other bamboo species. 

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

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