Bamboo Forest with Phyllostachys Nigra Henon (Giant Gray Bamboo)

Phyllostachys Nigra Henon ‘Giant Gray Bamboo’

If you are wishing for a massive, hardy, drought tolerant, low maintenance bamboo, then you came into the right place. The Giant Gray Bamboo is what you have been looking for!

Quick Facts

  • Common names: Giant Gray Bamboo, Henon, Gray Timber Bamboo, Hachiku
  • Botanical name: Phyllostachys Nigra Henon
  • Type: Running
  • Average height: 50 feet (15.2 m)
  • Average diameter: 5 inches (12.7 cm)
  • Hardiness: -5°F (-21°C)
  • USDA zones: 7 to 10
  • UK Hardiness Zones: H7-H2
  • Light requirements: Full sun to half sun
  • Best uses: High-quality timber for woodwork, tall privacy screen, bamboo forest, grove, decorative planting, erosion control, edible shoots, Chinese medicine
USDA Zones 7-10 highlighted in green on a USA map
USDA Zones 7-10

What are the characteristics of the Giant Gray Bamboo?

Henon Bamboo belongs to the Phyllostachys Nigra species. The distinctive-looking canes are rough. It becomes whitish green especially when it reaches maturity. Don’t be fooled by the word ‘nigra’! This green type of bamboo has a gray-blue color as the canes start to develop. That is why it has this ghostly gray display. No black color at all.

Large bamboo canes of the Giant Gray Bamboo, green canes with a white fading on it
Ghostly fading on the green canes of Henon Bamboo

In its original climate in China, it reaches up to 65 ft (19.8 m). It’s not likely to meet this height in the US or Europe though.

It has outstandingly attractive feather-like leaves. Its leaf sheath has wavy blades with noticeable oral setae, ligules, and auricles. Henon leaves have a flat and nearly wide surface.

This one-of-a-kind bamboo is extremely favored by people who crave for a massive and hardy bamboo with high-grade timber feature. It is also used in various industrial purposes because of its impressive features.

It is surprising to see that it may even seem to look unharmed even in a -15°F (-26.1°C) condition. This is perfect if you live in a place where you have harsh weather. Some people even describe it as bulletproof bamboo because of how dense it is.

Drought is not even a concern for this bamboo once it is established. It can also grow in some shady grounds with poor soil. Its pretty thick cane walls can withstand winter storms with very slight damage.

How to take care of Phyllostachys Nigra Henon?

Although it is low maintenance, it still needs a little tender loving care. Ideally, it grows well in full sun with plenty of water and moisture. Make sure that it has good drainage to prevent diseases.

If you want to reproduce this bamboo, you can do it by dividing rhizomes.

Plant it anywhere you wish. You can also grow them in containers and place them in balconies or patios. It may not reach its maximum height in containers though.

Phyllostachys Nigra Henon ‘Giant Gray Bamboo’ with the text How to Take Care of Phyllostachys Nigra Henon ‘Giant Gray Bamboo’

Water them regularly during its initial growing period.

If you think they are already invading outside their parameters, then you can start controlling them. Mow or step on young shoots to prevent further spreading. Fresh shoots are so delicate that they can easily be destroyed.

What are the benefits of growing Henon Bamboo?

It has good tasting edible shoots. The young shoots that emerge from the ground are safe to eat. Remember that younger shoots have better taste. Bamboo shoots can also be pickled, canned, or frozen.

Tabasheer or bamboo silica is a Chinese and Indian medicine that has several health benefits. Its main contents are cellulose and starch of Giant Gray Bamboo. It is usually collected in winter and fall by cutting the stems apart.

This species is perfect for crafts and building constructions. It provides quality wood which is a perfect choice by many craftsmen.

This bamboo can also create a prominent screen from about 6 ft (1.8 m) to 35 ft (10.7 m).

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


  • Thank you very much for this Great information.
    How fast do they grow annually? I want to use sustainable materials to build my greenhouse in the southern desert area of San Diego County, California.
    I read that Bamboo is somewhat salt tolerant too?
    How will they hold up against strong wind?
    Would there be benefit of planting stronger trees to protect the bamboo from excessive winds?
    How much do the plants cost?
    Thank you. :0)

    • Hi Kevin, Thank you so much for finding this information useful. Phyllostachys nigra can take 4 years to fully settle and they need to be watered well until they are established. Feed alternate years in late spring after the first shoots have reached full height. They prefer sun or semi-shade and will grow 23-35inchess each year. They are very adaptable to diverse conditions and are pretty sturdy. If you are concerned about the wind with younger plants, you could install a wind barrier for the first 3-4 years. For pricing, visit a local nursery or take a look at online shops.


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