New bamboo in my collection: Indocalamus tessellatus

Yesterday Sean Bigley aka Mad Man Bamboo and his family stopped by for a visit. While our wives and daughters did their thing, Sean and I checked out the progress on my bamboos, most of which came from his backyard nursery, and talked shop. On a “bamboo nut” scale from 1-10, Sean is close to a 10, but my wife would argue that I’m not far behind.

I’ve been to Sean’s house many times since my obsession with bamboo began about a year and a half ago so I have a good idea of what a given species will look like after being in the ground for a while. As a testament to the explosive growth of bamboo, many of my plants are beginning to resemble the mature specimens Sean has at his house, which is very gratifying to see. Soon I’ll be able to take divisions which I can then use to trade for—even more bamboo. When will it end? Probably when I’ve been swallowed up by my bamboo jungle, or killed by a bamboo shoot.

Sean was kind enough to bring over a new addition to my collection: Indocalamus tessellatus, a very hardy running bamboo that purportedly has the largest leaves of any bamboo in cultivation in the U.S. The leaves can be up to 24 in. long and 4 in. wide. The thin culms bend under the weight of the foliage, forming a tropical-looking mound. In China and Japan, the leaves are used to make mats and for wrapping food.

Indocalamus tessellatus in 5-gallon container

Since it’s a running bamboo, I will plant mine in a horse trough that will go under the bay trees where nothing much grows. This bamboo does very well in the shade, including low light situations, and will add an exotic look.

One particular energetic rhizome escaping through the drain hole in the container to form a new culm
Closeup of drain hole

Have I said that I love the leaves?

Very large leaves, even on this juvenile plant

Here are some good photos of mature specimens: and