Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Tortoise Shell Bamboo
Phyllostachys edulis 'Heterocycla'

Family: Poaceae (poh-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Phyllostachys (fy-lo-STAK-iss) (Info)
Species: edulis (ED-yew-liss) (Info)
Cultivar: Heterocycla

Synonym:Phyllostachys edulis var. heterocycla
Synonym:Phyllostachys heterocycla

8 members have or want this plant for trade.

Ornamental Grasses and Bamboo

over 40 ft. (12 m)

20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Provides winter interest

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

Click thumbnail
to view:

By dbinnix
Thumbnail #1 of Phyllostachys edulis by dbinnix

By dbinnix
Thumbnail #2 of Phyllostachys edulis by dbinnix

By bgilman707
Thumbnail #3 of Phyllostachys edulis by bgilman707


2 positives
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive don7t1 On Jun 12, 2004, don7t1 from Abbeville, LA wrote:

A few years ago I imported from mainland China several plants of Tortoise Shell Bamboo. I have divided them several times and as yet they are growing BUT have NOT produced the familiar "tortoiseshell' shape at the base of the culm. Each imported plant had attached to the rhizome a "tortoiseshell" cut off culm --so I know I got the correct plants. Being a form of MOSO -growth is very good here in zone 9

Positive dbinnix On May 19, 2004, dbinnix from Garden Grove, CA wrote:

I do not actually have this plant but I am familiar with it, and wanted to give some information on it. This is the famous "Tortoise Shell Bamboo" were the internodes are longer on one side than the other and gives it the apperance of a Tortoise Shell. This plant is extremely rare if anyone has one you have a real gem. It should be easy to grow as it is a Phyllostachys (Runner) and I would be happy to let it run as much as possible. This plant can also take some cold down to 0F so it has a wider range of areas it would do well in. The pictures given are outside the US I don't know if there are any plants in the US it came up for sale only 1 time that I know of and that was at a rare plant auction.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Windsor, California
Mukilteo, Washington

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