Moso bamboo trees (Phyllostachys pubescens), grown widely for wood and shoot production, cover over 7 million acres in China. The plant offers a valuable environment wood source that is highly sustainable. Moso bamboo, considered the fastest growing plant in the world, grows up to 47 inches in a single night. Over the course of 50 days the plant will attain a height of 78 feet. Culms grow up to 51 inches in diameter.
The moso bamboo requires ample rainfall to grow. It requires up to 71 inches of rainfall per year. Moso bamboo grows well in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 7 to 10 if the need for rainfall is met.
In addition to having specific temperature and rainfall needs, the tree is also very sensitive to timing. It requires a rainfall of at least 23 inches before shooting occurs in March and May. If the moso does not receive the needed rainfall, then shooting will fail. Rainfall conditions need to be ideal in July and September to help the rhizomes of the bamboo grow and produce shoot buds.
It takes five years to produce a grove of moso bamboo. The grove will not gain a culm size of 4 inches until the tree reaches 10 years of age. When a grove is fully established, approximately 9,000 culms will grow on 1 acre, according to the American Bamboo Society.
When moso bamboo is grown for timber production, the culms are ready for harvest at the age of 7 years. When produced for only pulp or paper, the culms are ready for harvest at only 4 years of age. Fine paper that is often used in calligraphy and ancient book or writing reprinting is manufactured from culms that are less than 1 year old.
The moso bamboo seeds can be grown if care is taken. Seeds do require a cold stratification of over six months prior to planting. Harvest seeds from August to October. Sow seeds in the spring for best results.