Bamboo Farming USA

Phyllostachys edulis -  Moso - Mao Zhu in China - Second to Shoot


Moso is the largest temperate bamboo. I love it. To me moso is the most beautiful bamboo. It has dramatically large canes and way up high are the small leaves that flutter and sway with the wind. 

Moso is the most important bamboo in China. It covers 7.4 million acres and is considered a forest resource.  It is grown for bamboo shoots and timber, food and wood. Most of the manufactured bamboo products that we buy in the United States were made from moso. The cover for my iPhone is laminated of strips of moso bamboo. Most bamboo flooring is moso. Most bamboo plywood is moso. 

Moso grows well in the Southeastern United States. I planted one plant on Vashon Island In Puget Sound, Washington State. The plot was fertile meadow land with a gentle south east aspect. The plot was turned with an excavator to kill the grass and voles. A truckload of curds from a Tofu factory were stirred into the ground. The moso was well watered. It reached 2 inches in diameter in three seasons. On the other hand Wade Bennett of Rock Ridge Farms was unsuccessful growing moso. He grows bamboos on the plateau north of Mount Rainier in Washington State . His location was too cold. Other bamboos grew well for him, not moso. He has sold bamboo shoots for 20 years at farmer' markets and directly to chefs at fine restaurants.

Former names are:   Phyllostachys mitis, P. heterocycla pubescens, P. pubescens. Japanese name is Moso-chiku. 

Bamboo Species Source List - 2011 - American Bamboo Society

Max Height feet/meters   75/22.9    Max Diam inch/feet   7.0/17.8   Min Temp °F/°C   5/-15   Full Sun
Largest of the hardy bamboos. Young culms are covered with a velvety coat of soft hairs. The Most used bamboo in China, used for food, timber, paper, plywood, flooring.


The Hairy Bamboo

Notice the open forest an
d the ground mulched with bamboo leaves. This shoot came up in the groves of Georgia Bamboo in Bonaire, Georgia. The photograph was taken April 8, 2011.

Moso shoots

These photos were taken by Wolfgang Eberts in Germany. I believe the moso was grown in Italy. I think I have had these photos since the 1990's

My Research Plot in Bonaire, Georgia

A moso grove has a distinct look, different from other bamboo groves.  The internodes are closer together than most timber bamboos.  The white lines at the nodes are striking. The sheath leaves at the base of the culms remain for several years. Moso falls into the group of bamboos whose canes are largest at the base and taper to the top. The bamboos in the other group are largest at about 4 or 5 feet and from there taper to the base and to the top. The yellow green canes are yellowed by the sun as they abut the access road. The shaded canes are green.

No Nodal Ridge; just a sheath scar.

Most timber bamboos have a nodal ridge (a swelling) above the sheath scar.  Moso and  P. viridis (and its varieties Houzeau and Robert Young) do not have this nodal ridge. All  timber bamboos have the scar where the sheath leaf attached. The sheath leaf falls off when the internode it subtends has completed elongating. It leaves a shelf  where it had been attached. The shelf is the thickness of the sheath leaf. Moso bamboo has the leaf scar but does not have the nodal ridge. This shelf with no nodal ridge above it is a distinguishing characteristic. Use it to identify.

The cane on the right is too young to harvest. The one on the left is probably old enough. If you harvest a cane that is too young, its cells are largely water and the pole will crack as the water in the cells dries. 

Poles thinned from the research plots

These are the small old poles that I thinned in September 2011. The bigger straighter poles are left in the plot. My moso plot barely shot in 2011. I hope that by removing these poles that it will shoot in 2012. The poles in the photo are poor quality: curving and small. As time goes by and I get the plot in good shape, I will harvest large straight poles. 

Yellow Leaves March 28, 2011

The moso in my research plot changed its leaves in a spectacular show of yellow. Notice the yellow leaves on the ground. Golden mulch! The tops of the moso canes lean outwards from the grove. On the right is my Houzeau grove nicely thinned and behind the Houzeau is  Phyllostachys purpurata. I think that the  P. purpurata would be perfect  to plant alongside pastures. The leaves are easy for livestock to reach and eat. And it is prolific even in summer drought as we had here in Georgia in 2011.

I visited in October 2011 for three days!

Phyllostachys pubescens Mazel ex H. de Lehaie
From the original colony under PI 80034, now about 27 Years old, at U.S Barvour Lathrop Plant Introduction Garden, Savannah, GA
No. 21800 F.A.McClure, Collector Apr. 24, 1955

edulis 15087

HERBARIUM, CANTON CHRISTIOAN COLLEGE (handwriting) Phyl. pubescens + illegible
collected by FA McClure   Date   April 18, 1925

on a folded piece of paper
ROMANIZATION (Cantonese)  Mau Chuck, Mo Sun Chuk
Field No 1514            Herbarium No 133380
Collector                   F.A. McClure
Province                    Kwangtung  Tsing Uen (hard to read)
Locality                      Pat Ka Shaan (Nam Fong Hiang)
Habitat                      Cultivated on Steep mountain side
Height of Plant      6-8 M
Diameter, Breas Height       10 Cm
Flower                        Not seen
Special Notes          culm sheaths dark brown with reddish brown ubescens
Economic Uses       Young shoots eaten, Mature culms an important article of Commerce
Date        April 18, 1925   

pubescens 15411

PHYLLOSTACHYS        CULTIVATED             pubescens 15411
loose papers
F.A.M. 127  Phyllostachys sp. (?)  Mau Chuk
Rhizomes seared by F.A.M. april 18, 1925, from a young Hakka farmer by the name of Wong Paak Koon who lives at the tiny two-house settlement of Naam Fong Who in the Pen Rack Mountains. the splendid grow visit here was flourishing on a steep northern slope. I was told by others than the owner, that a northern exposure is considered best for this bamboo. In contrast with the policy of neglect which seems to characterize the culture of this bamboo in most places, this grove showed signs of careful attention. Whereas no grass or weeds were growing in the grove there seemed to be a goo supply of decaying vegetable matter such as grass, bamboo leaves, young fir branches, etc.
The soil tested neutral to slightly acid.
This bamboo is unusual in that it begins in January to produce sprouts, also it is said that only a small percent of the plants give rise to sprouts thus early. These sprouts are harvested as soon as their tips appear above the ground, since on account of their slow growth the effect of the sun upon them is to make them bitter. These sprouts are called Tung Sun. Winter sprouts, and bring a price which is commensurate with their limited quantity and unusual season. At Tsing Yen in March these winter sprouts were bringing 25 cents local silver, per catty 
( 1  1/3 lb) whereas now, when the regular crop is in full sway, the price was 5 cents per catty. At the present season the rate of growth of the sprouts is much faster and they are sometimes allowed to reach a length of nearly three feet before they are harvested for the market. During the regular season these sprouts are known as Mau Dun or Mo Sun the latter name being a descriptive one meaning "hairy sprouts" without doubt these sprouts form the bulk of the supply of bamboo sprouts on the market at this season. They are held in much favor among the Chinese who prepare them in various ways without the parboiling and soaking process thru which the sprouts of so many for the rhizome bamboo must pass before they are palatable. This is due to some principle which causes in the mouth a sensation mildly similar to that caused by orange peel.
However, the commercial value of the canes of this bamboo, which are considered the very best of many purposes, probably exceeds by  a large margin the value of its sprouts. For carrying poles and bamboo trays everybody gives the unhesitating opinion that Mau Chuk is best. And for chairs, stools, rakes, buckets and a number of other articles I have need seen any other bamboo used, unless it be Man Chuk, with is evidently a near relative.
See F.A.M. 128 and 141
(Man Chuk is Phyllostachys elegans)