Oggie the bamboo dog in a stand of Moso, Portland, OR  2002
 Photo copyright: Ned Jaquith, Bamboo Garden 2003

Bamboo Society members in the Moso at Prafrance Photo copyright: Ned Jaquith, 1998
Phyllostachys edulis 'Jaquith'  Common Name: Moso

Maximum Height: 70 feet, Typical Height: 40 to 50 feet
Diameter: 4 to 7 inches
Hardiness: 0 F
USDA Zone recommended 7 through 10

        This is the largest of the hardy bamboos and one of the most beautiful. The very large culms are festooned with masses of the smallest leaves in the Phyllostachys genus, making it look even larger. The culms of a mature plant are very broad at the base and quite tapered. A culm 5 inches in diameter at chest height may be 7 or more inches in diameter at the base. New culms are covered with soft, velvety hairs, which provide protection from insect predation. Our common name "Moso", is the Japanese name which is an interpretation of the Chinese name "Mao Zhu", which translates to "Hairy Bamboo".
(Also called: Phyllostachys heterocycla  pubescens)

        
The type of Moso growing at Bamboo Garden was originally grown from seed by the founder of Bamboo Garden, Ned Jaquith, in 1985. We grew it on to maturity here at the nursery and Ned long considered it to be his favorite of all the bamboos. It is a particularly beautiful form of Moso, with primarily large green canes supporting the classic feather-fall leaf pattern. It also bears an occasional variegated culm or branch. With admiration and respect for the late founder of Bamboo Garden, we have assigned the cultivar name 'Jaquith' to our unique variety of Moso. It is well adapted to growing in the PNW and has achieved culm diameter of 5 inches at the base, becoming the largest bamboo at our nursery.

        There is no mistaking Moso for any other. A mature Moso grove is a spectacular site. From a distance the groves have a light, feathery look. When a grove is properly maintained, one can stroll among the large culms as if they were in a mature conifer forest. In a mature grove the foliage begins 30 to 40 feet above the base. Phyllostachys bambusoides is the bamboo of choice for basket weaving in Japan because of  its flexibility. Moso, on the other hand, is unsuitable for fine basketry because it is so stiff, but it is the primary bamboo resource for the bamboo flooring industry, paper making, and shoot production. Fresh Moso shoots are delicious! It is also used for many utilitarian things such as utensils, tubing, construction scaffolding, etc. In the West it may be used for ornamental construction. 

         Moso shoots are the most commonly eaten shoots and consist of the majority of the bamboo shoot export from China. It shoots early, and shoots can even be dug in the winter, when no others are available. Moso does not mature quickly in cooler climates, and it is finally attaining some size in our yard (see the picture with Oggie). We have transplanted large plants to our main nursery 25 miles west of Portland and now have a real bamboo forest. Our largest plants are about 40 ft tall and over 4 inches in diameter at breast height.  We are also growing several distinctive clones with different color variations, such as the rare and beautiful, Bi-color Moso, and highly sought after but extremely rare, Tortoise Shell Moso.  Moso shoots usually begin to appear in mid to late March in Portland, OR, depending on the temperature of the soil.


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Grove of giant Moso on Avery Island, Lousiana. American Bamboo Society  annual convention, 2011  (click on photos to see larger image)


Happy people with their giant Moso souvenirs! This is what makes American Bamboo Society meetings so much fun. Touring awesome bamboo groves (Georgia, 2010).


photo copyright: Noah Bell, Bamboo Garden
Beautiful, feathery foliage of Moso.  This is the P. edulis 'Jaquith' culitivar.

photo copyright: Noah Bell, Bamboo Garden
Moso canes arching under the weight of snow.  Moso usually springs back upright and has minimal snow breakage.


Photo copyright: Ned Jaquith, Bamboo Garden, 2001
The Bamboo Garden installing Moso at the Chinese Garden in Portland, OR. We donated several large Moso for the display at their garden in down town Portland and support their plant sale every year.

Photo copyright: Wolfgang Ebert, 1998
Anika between Moso Shoots at  Eberts' Bambus Italia


Photo copyright: Noah Bell
Spring shoots!

Photo copyright: Noah Bell

5 Inch Moso shoot at Bamboo Garden!

photo copyright: Noah Bell, Bamboo Garden
Late spring, Moso sheds its older leaves as new ones unfurl.

 
Shoot progression growth chart
These photos were taken between March and June, displaying the always impressive growth rate of spring bamboo shoots. (species: Phyllostachys edulis) Early in the season when the average temperature was about 45-50 F, the growth rate was only an inch or two per day.  From about mid April, the growth rate was nearly a foot per day, as the daily temperature averaged about 60F. We look forward to shooting season every year! (they are also edible) Still hoping for that 6" diameter new shoot.  Maybe 2013 will be the year of the MOSO!

~Noah Bell

Scroll down to enjoy. Click on each photo to see a larger image.

March 10th

Barely peaking out of the soil. Can you spot the new shoots?  (click on each photo to see larger image)

April 2nd
After nearly a month of rainy weather, the shoots have only grown about 12 inches, but the are impressive diameter. This is about the last chance to harvest edible shoots before they get too large and fibrous.
 
April 13th

A couple days of warm weather has boosted the shoot growth rate slightly. It looks like we will have a good year for Moso shoots.
April 19th

Generally warmer weather, growth rate increases to about 6 inches per day. Culm sheaths are peeling away near the base to reveal green canes. Young Moso canes are covered with a velvet-soft layer of microscopic hairs to protect itself from pests.
April 23rd

4 days and 20 inches later, bases of canes are exposed. Tallest new shoots are about 8 feet in height. One particularly large culm near the center of the grove measured 5" diameter at the base; our largest Moso shoot yet.

April 27th

Nearly 10 inches per day, average temperature about 60F. The shoots are to almost half way to full height, about 14 feet.
The dark, mottled culm sheaths of Moso stand out in contrast to the lush green foliage of last year's canes.
May 10th

Growing at full rate during a week of sunny weather, the new shoots are now to 20 feet.
I never tire of watching Moso shoots.
                    May 21st

11 days later, the new shoots are almost to their full height of about 30 feet.

Two photos taken on this day, one toward the ground, the other toward the sky.

June 10th

Now fully extended and entering early summer, the new shoots to 30 feet in height begin unfolding their branches and unfurling their leaves.

Gold finches like to perch in the branches.

All photos Noah Bell, Bamboo Garden
The new branches look bare but the leaves are just beginning to unfurl.  During this time, P. edulis Moso sheds a lot of their older leaves to make way for the new ones. As the old leaves yellow and flutter to the ground, the spring Moso leaf shedding is almost as interesting as the new shoots (see below). This process is not common among other Phyllostachys and is part of what makes Moso such a special bamboo. All bamboos have a similar growth surge when the new shoots grow to full height in one season. Bamboo is a giant woody grass, not a tree!

Photo Noah Bell, Bamboo Garden

Photo above is a beautiful grove of Moso, courtesy of Wolfgang Eberts of Baumschule Eberts. Ned is walking down that path...