Three new bamboos from a fellow collector

This has been a good week as far as bamboos are concerned. On Tuesday I picked up my order from Bamboo Sourcery, and today I received three more plants from a fellow bamboo collector. All three are running bamboos in the genus Phyllostachys.

The first one, Phyllostachys nigra ‘Hale’, is a somewhat smaller variety of the ever popular black bamboo. Its culms are supposed to turn black faster than on the regular nigra. This one will eventually go in a large pot in our back yard. We already have a regular Phyllostachys nigra, so it’ll be interesting to see how these two varieties differ. My in-laws have yet another variety of black bamboo, Phyllostachys nigra ‘Punctata’, at their place in Mount Shasta.

The second one, Phyllostachys nigra ‘Henon’, is a green-culmed bamboo that many consider to be the true Phyllostachys nigra from which the black-culmed black bamboo originated. I know, bamboo taxonomy can be confusing, and I don’t spend too much time trying to figure out why plants are named a certain way. Henon is a giant timber bamboo that can grow to 50 ft. with 4” culms. Its wood is very dense and strong and can be used for construction. The culms start out a medium green but age to an almost eerie gray. The leaves are small and delicate-looking which adds to the overall beauty of this giant. The Henon I got today will eventually go to my in-laws where it will have room to roam. Maybe some day it will form a grove like this one. Where we live, there simply isn’t room for that.

The third one, Phyllostachys bambusoides, also called “Japanese timber bamboo” or “madake” (苦竹), is the strongest temperate timber bamboo. It’s the preferred bamboo for construction in Japan. It’s even larger than Henon, potentially as tall as 70 ft. with 6” culms. It’s a fairly slow grower and not as cold hardy as Henon, but it should still do fine in Mount Shasta at my in-laws’ place (which my wife has taken to calling “Experimental Bamboo Garden North”).

Madake is the bamboo species planted at the Mendocino National Forest Genetic Resource & Conservation Center in Chico, 1.5 hrs north of here, which my wife and kids visited this summer (see photos below). This place, popularly called the “Tree Farm”, is a true Northern California gem that very few people outside of Chico know about. I’m waiting for Huell Howser to do an episode of California’s Gold on it!

I love it when a big box like this one arrives!
Amazing that these three bamboos fit in the box
Phyllostachys nigra ‘Hale’ after unpacking
Root ball of Phyllostachys nigra ‘Hale’; I was excited to see a new shoot forming
101202_Ph_bambusoides_05 101202_Ph_bambusoides_04
One of the culms on the Phyllostachys bambusoides (madake) had gotten bent
a little too much so I fashioned a splint for it
Madake at the Tree Farm in Chico (photos by Heather Bock)
Here are the three beauties after I put them in 5-gallon containers


  1. You mild climate gardeners get to receive new plants all year long. We have to go without for three months or so. =( Unless some of my bamboo seed actually germinates... =)

  2. Alan, but you have ice flowers :-).

    Which bamboo seed do you have? I have a Pleioblastus shibuyanus 'Tsuboi' in flower, and there are two small seedlings in the pot now. Neat to see, except their all green instead of variegated.

  3. Looking forward to seeing the Henon and Madake in the ground up here! Can hardly wait for spring! Will have to think about where to put them!

    EBGN (Experimental Bamboo Garden North)

  4. How is the Henon doing in a container? I ordered some P. Nigra 'Bory' from MadMan Sean, which should arrive in a few weeks. I'm planning on growing it in a pot on a permanent basis and wondering if you had any tips.

  5. David, my 'Henon' is still small and hasn't even filled a 5-gallon nursery pot yet. I honestly don't know how it would handle living in a container permanently.

    'Bory' is smaller than 'Henon' and should do fine in a container if you choose one big enough. Did you look at my posts about metal stock tanks? Something like that would be great for 'Bory'.

    Sean has a lot of experience with container growing and should be able to give you good tips as well.


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