Phyllostachys edulis

Common Name Moso-Chiku, Tortoise shell bamboo
Family Poaceae or Gramineae
Synonyms P. mitis. P. pubescens. H. de Lehar. Bambusa edulis. Sinarundinaria pubescens.
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Woodland[162]. Mountain slopes at elevations up to 1600 metres or more[266].
Range E. Asia - China.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Phyllostachys edulis is an evergreen Bamboo growing to 8 m (26ft 3in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 7. It is in leaf 12-Jan. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Wind.

USDA hardiness zone : 6-9

Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist soil.

Phyllostachys edulis Moso-Chiku, Tortoise shell bamboo
Phyllostachys edulis Moso-Chiku, Tortoise shell bamboo


Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge;
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Stem.
Edible Uses:

Young shoots - cooked[1, 11, 105]. Very palatable when cooked but acrid raw[25, 74, 183]. Not of the highest quality, but their large size makes them very popular[195]. Extensively eaten in China, they are usually cooked in one change of water[183]. The shoots are harvested in the spring when they are about 8cm above the ground, cutting them about 5cm below soil level. The dormant young shoots, harvested in the winter before they emerge above the ground, are especially relished as a delicacy[183, 195].
Medicinal Uses
Antiemetic;  Antirheumatic.

The leaves are used in the treatment of arthritic inflammations[218]. The sheaths of the stem are used in the treatment of nausea and sour stomach[218].
Other Uses
Containers;  Pipes;  Wood.

The canes make good water pipes[74], they are also used for household utensils etc[25]. The short internodes at the lower end of the cane are used as flasks, vases etc[74]. Although the wood is relatively soft, the canes are much used for heavy construction, weaving various types of handicrafts and paper making[195]. The rhizomes are used as walking sticks and umbrella handles.
Cultivation details                                         
Requires a rich damp soil in a sheltered position[200] with plenty of moisture in the growing season[162]. Likes abundant sunshine[11]. A fairly cold-hardy plant, succeeding outdoors in many areas of Britain. It tolerates temperatures down to about -15°c according to one report, but the plants are slow to recover from damage caused by cold weather[11]. They also dislike prolonged exposure to hard frosts[200]. Plants grow well in Cornwall making a very good sized clump. The young shoots are very fast growing, up to 30cm per day[11], and are produced from late April[25]. The rootstock is running but it is practically static in cool climates[25]. This species is notably resistant to honey fungus[200]. Plants only flower at intervals of many years. When they do come into flower most of the plants energies are directed into producing seed and consequently the plant is severely weakened. They sometimes die after flowering, but if left alone they will usually recover though they will look very poorly for a few years. If fed with artificial NPK fertilizers at this time the plants are more likely to die[122]. Young plants can be difficult to establish, new plantings only grow slowly at first and often fail completely if soil and water conditions are less than the best[195]. This species, but especially its cultivar 'Pubescens'[266] is extensively cultivated for its edible young shoots and other uses in China and Japan[46, 183, 266], it is the most commonly cultivated bamboo in China and the second most common in Japan[195]. This is a good companion species to grow in a woodland because the plants are shallow rooted and do not compete with deep rooted trees[195].
Seed - surface sow as soon as it is ripe in a greenhouse at about 20°c. Do not allow the compost to dry out. Germination usually takes place fairly quickly so long as the seed is of good quality, though it can take 3 - 6 months. Grow on in a lightly shaded place in the greenhouse until large enough to plant out. Seed is rarely available. Division in spring as new growth commences. Divisions from the open ground do not transplant well, so will need careful treatment and nurturing under cover in pots until at least late spring[238]. Division is best carried out in wet weather and small divisions will establish better than large clumps[238]. Another report says that you can take large divisions from established clumps and transfer them straight to their permanent positions, misting or drenching them frequently until they are established[200]. Basal cane cuttings in spring.


Additional information for Moso / Chinese timber Bamboo


Winter plant propagation by division

June 30, 2020
Clone or duplicate plants by dividing. May also be useful to reinvigorate or restart aging plants.
The exact process will differ for each species but generally involves digging up part or all of the plant, carefully separating or cutting rooted sections before removing most of the leaf surface area and replanting in new locations. Post care includes watering and weeding as required.
  June   July   August