Phyllostachys edulis
Common Name: moso bamboo 
Type: Ornamental grass
Family: Poaceae
Native Range: Caucasus, China, eastern Asia
Zone: 7 to 10
Height: 25.00 to 60.00 feet
Spread: 10.00 to 25.00 feet
Bloom Time: Rarely flowers
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Hedge, Naturalize
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest


Grow in fertile, humus-rich, moist but well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Prefers a moist sheltered site in dappled shade. In the U.S., ideal growth occurs in warm climates with hot summers and cool to moderately cold winters. Plants will tolerate some frost, but will be seriously damaged if temperatures dip below 14 degrees F. Best growth typically occurs in USDA Zones 8-9, but plants may survive in Zones 6b and 7 in a less vigorous much shorter form. In cold winter areas north of USDA Zone 6, plants may be grown in patio containers that are brought indoors for overwintering in a greenhouse, sunroom or sunny window. Where winter hardiness is not a problem, moso bamboo can spread aggressively by rhizomes to the point of being somewhat invasive. Rhizomatous spread combined with speedy upright growth (to 3’ per day at its peak) enable it to take over and dominate large areas (forms dense monocultural thickets) because it simply outpaces the growth of other plants, shrubs and trees. Propagate by seed or division.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Phyllostachys edulis, commonly known as moso bamboo, tortoise-shell bamboo or edible bamboo, is a rhizomatous species of timber bamboo that will grow in favorable conditions to 25-60’ tall, but less frequently to as much as 90’ tall. It is the largest and perhaps the most ornamentally attractive of the temperate bamboos. Although mature specimens look like trees, moso bamboo is not a tree but is in fact a grass with a woody structure. It is native to deciduous woodlands in China, but has been introduced elsewhere around the globe including Japan where it has become an important symbol of prosperity in Japanese culture. It grows well in parts of the southeastern U.S.

Woody culms (stems) have nodes at intervals. Nodes on the culms form a segmented stem that is hollow except at the node itself. Culms are columnar, only tapering near the apex where the uppermost nodes produce attractive side branches that in turn bear the numerous elegant, paper-thin, narrow-lanceolate leaves (to 5” long and 5/ 8” wide). Culms are velvety gray when young becoming green or yellow with age with a white bloom below the nodes. Culm thickness ranges from 3 to 8” in diameter. Insignificant white flowers rarely appear (about once every 67 years). Although bamboo plants in general normally expend so much energy in the flowering/fruiting that they die shortly thereafter, this rule of thumb is not always true in regard to this species.

Moso bamboo is the most commonly grown bamboo species in China and Japan for commercial purposes. It is grown in large plantations and harvested for a variety of products including timber, fencing, furniture, construction material, paper, plywood, flooring, musical instruments and fishing poles. It is also the most commonly grown species of bamboo in Asia for harvest of its edible shoots which are eaten locally and/or canned for export. Shoots harvested for food are best collected before they break the soil surface, but in reality are more commonly collected after emerging from the ground but before reaching 12” tall.

Genus name comes from the Greek word pyllon meaning leaf and stachys meaning ear of corn or spike in reference to the leafy inflorescence.

Specific epithet from Latin means edible in reference to the edible shoots.


Rust and stem smut are common. Slugs and snails attack new shoots.


Ornamentally, moso bamboo is a good background plant for large landscapes. This is not a plant for small lots. It needs to grown in areas where its often rampant growth can be effectively dealt with (underground barriers often do not effectively shield spread but annual root pruning at the edges of the planting may work). Mature plants have decorative foliage and a graceful habit. Commercially, it is planted in groves for harvest of timber and edible shoots. It is useful on slopes for combating soil erosion. Interesting living fence.