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Japanese Timber Bamboo - Phyllostachys bambusoides

English Name: Japanese Timber Bamboo
Japanese Name: Madake
Max Height: 75 Feet (23 m)
Max Diameter: 6 inches (15 cm)
Minimum Temp: 5°F (-15°C)
Hardiness Zone: 7
Light Exposure: Full sun
Rhizome System: Running (leptomorph)

General Information

Phyllostachys bambusoides is the most commonly grown timber bamboo in Japan and is a symbolic of Japanese culture. It is also widely grown throughout the US, China, and Australia for both industrial and ornamental purposes. Its culms exhibit and attractive polished green color and grow straight, thick, and wide. New culms usually emerge in late spring and grow rapidly at rates of up to 40 inches per day! The average life span of its culms is about 20 years, more than twice that of most other Phyllostachys bamboos. These characteristics have made it a highly valued construction material. The shoots are edible, although they are bitter when consumed raw. This species has the unique distinction of having the longest flowering interval of any other bamboo species at approximately 130 years. A mass flowering took place in the 1970’s that was experienced primarily in the United States. Many well established P. bambusoides groves died off as a result of the flowering. This event has long perplexed botanists and no definitive theory has been established since. Check out the bamboo flowering section for more details.

Physical Description

Japanese Timber is an attractive running bamboo with dark green shiny culms. The culms are thick, straight, and erect. Branches are primarily found at the top of the plant when mature, although branches are found frequently at the lower nodes of a young plant.

Habitat and Location

A very common running bamboo throughout the world. Its origins are in China, but most commonly associated with Japan. It is also widely grown in the United States, particularly Northern California, Oregon, and Washington state. Also found in Australia.

Common Commercial Uses

The culm wood is ideal for construction. Culms are thick walled and straight. It is used frequently in Asia as scaffolding and also in the manufacture of furniture. The stems are durable and used as plant supports.

Culinary Uses

Young shoots are commonly boiled as a vegetable. The shoots of Japanese Timber are somewhat bitter and rarely consumed raw. Bitters fades after boiling.

Cultivation Notes

Ph. bambusoides Is an invasive running bamboo and has the potential to spread rapidly if not controlled. In the United States, the culms rarely exceed 4" in diameter. It is slower growing than some of the other giant Phyllostachys species, such as Ph. vivax. Over time the culms will grow tall and thick, often lasting twice as long as most other culm wood in its Genus. It has the longest known flowering interal at 130 years.



Japanese Timber Bamboo Madake
Phyllostachys bambusoides - Japanese Timber Bamboo


Madake Bamboo Japan
Madake Culms - Japanese Timber.