Dendrocalamus asper

Dendrocalamus asper (Schult. f.) Backer

Line drawing of
culm sheath of Dendrocalamus asper,
from Flora of China.

  • Synonyms: Bambusa aspera Schult. f.; Dendrocalamus flagellifer Munro.
  • Thai name: ไผ่ตง (phai tong).
  • English name: Rough Giant Bamboo.
  • Distribution: Origin unknown, perhaps Indonesia, Malaysia, or Thailand; only known in cultivation, and from naturalized populations having derived from abandoned cultivation. THAILAND: cultivated throughout, chiefly grown in Prachin Buri province; perhaps widely naturalized since gregarious flowering in the 1990's; naturalized populations from abandoned cultivation in early times found in Khlong Phanom National Park of southern Thailand in 1991; large naturalized populations exist also in Prachin Buri and Nakhon Nayok provinces of eastern Central Thailand (with maximum culm diameter of 23 cm), and plants there were possibly introduced by Chinese immigrants around 1900-1910, who established plantations (A. Anantachot, 1991: 48). MALAYSIA: widely cultivated, perhaps native; INDONESIA; MYANMAR; CHINA (South); LAOS; PHILIPPINES; cultivated throughout tropical Asia, from lowlands up to about 1,500 m altitude. — Map 21 in Bamboo Biodiversity, INBAR, 2003.
  • Culm size: Height 10 - 20 (30) m, diameter 8 - 18 (20) cm.
  • Descriptions:
    (1) "Culms 15–20 m, 6–10(–12) cm in diam.; internodes 30–50 cm. Branches from ca. 9th node up, central branch dominant. Culm sheaths deciduous, initially light green, leathery, apex rounded; ligule 7–10 mm, margin with brown setae; auricles linear, ca. 20 × 7 mm, margin undulate; oral setae present; blade reflexed, lanceolate. Leaf sheaths initially sparsely hairy, becoming glabrous; ligule truncate, ca. 2 mm, entire or serrulate; blade variable, lanceolate or oblong-lanceolate, (10–)20–30(–35) × (1.5–)3–5 cm. ... [flowers described]. Fruit unknown." — Flora of China.
    (2) "... caespitose. Rhizomes short; pachymorph. Culms erect; 1500–2000 cm long; 120 mm diam.; woody; with aerial roots from the nodes. Culm-internodes terete; 40–50 cm long; distally pubescent. Lateral branches dendroid. Buds or branches present on lower quarter of culm. Culm-sheaths deciduous; 40–50 cm long; pale green; pubescent; with dark brown hairs; auriculate; with 7 mm high auricles; ciliate on shoulders; shoulders with 5 mm long hairs. Culm-sheath ligule 7–10 mm high; fimbriate. Culm-sheath blade linear; narrower than sheath; reflexed; 25 cm long; 35 mm wide; acuminate. Leaf-sheath oral hairs lacking. Ligule an eciliate membrane, or a ciliolate membrane; 2 mm long; entire, or erose. Leaf-blade base cuneate; with a brief petiole-like connection to sheath; petiole 0.3–0.5 cm long. Leaf-blades lanceolate; 15–30 cm long; 10–25 mm wide. Leaf-blade surface glabrous. Leaf-blade apex acuminate. ... [flowers and seeds described]." — Kew GrassBase.
    (3) S. Dransfield & E. A. Widjaja in S. Dransfield & E. A. Widjaja (editors), Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 7, Bamboos, 1995: p. 80-83, fig. [#1226].
    (4) K. M. Wong, Bamboos of Peninsular Malaysia, 1995: p. 107-109, fig. 51 [#1210]. (5) PROTA, Wageningen Univ., accessed 27 Oct. 2017 [#1244].
  • Images: Line drawing in Flora of China. Photos in AsianFlora (culms); photos (4) from data­base of (habit, culms, node, culm sheath); photos in K. M. Wong, Bamboo - The Amazing Grass, 2004: fig. 26 (branch), fig. 46 (culm) [#1048]; photos in PROTA.
  • Characters: Culms trumpet-shaped with lowest diameter thicker than from breast height up. Young shoots with ivory-white culm leaf sheaths. Culm internodes of lower culm completely covered with velvety greenish to brown hairs. Culm nodes of basal culm with abundant aerial roots. Culm leaf auricles large, bristly; culm leaf ligule with irregular coarse divisions or clefts; culm leaf blade dark purplish-green when young.
  • Uses: Shoots for food(shoot production of this species is economically important in Thailand). Culms used for con­struction, for making chop-sticks and tooth-picks, and for pulp.
  • Comments: (1) Flowers and seeds known. Post and photos of flowering Dendrocalamus asper from Nan Province, northern Thailand, by Thoop Nakasen in facebook, 26 Mar. 2014. (2) Several varieties of Dendro­calamus asper are known and listed below.

Dendrocalamus asper pop. Chiang Run

Plants of this naturalized population are from Chiang Run in Nakhon Si Thammarat province, and have turned out to show some minor different vegetative characters compared to popularly and widely cultivated strains of Dendrocalamus asper from Thailand.

Dendrocalamus asper population Chiang Run: Culms and habit in the wild (photos left and right from STKC),
a clone brought into cultivation, showing young culm with culm leaf (BS-0344) (right)
  • Thai names: ไผ่เฉียงรุน (phai chiang run).
  • Distribution: THAI­LAND: South: Surat Thani and Phang Nga pro­vinces: confined to Khlong Phanom National Park (อุทยานแห่งชาติคลองพนม), at (200) 400 - 500 m altitude, naturalized, having derived from cultivated plants long time ago, occurs in primary forest (evergreen rain forest) in pure stands (not found mixed with other bamboos).
  • Culm size: Height 30 - 40 m, diameter 19 - 25 cm. The recorded maximum size might refer to culm length (not to plant height) and basal culm diameter rather than diameter at breast height.
  • Images: Photos from STKC.
  • Uses: Shoots for food, culms for construction.
  • Comments: Said to be the tallest bamboo species ever found in Thailand.
  • References: STKC - 1155, 1156; Kew Herbarium.
  • Specimens: BS-0344 [BBG] (living plant), cl. Chiang Run, received as "ไผ่เฉียงรุน, the tallest Dendrocalamus asper", in Dec. 2009.
  • Characters: Not yet observed in detail. An old clump comprises some 20-30 culms. Average height is 35 m, with culms of approximately 55 internodes each. Culms erect and straight; culm internodes white-waxy when young, glossy green when mature, dull grayish-green when old, wall 2.5 cm thick. Nodes of basal culm with aerial roots. Culm sheaths purplish-brown, deciduous. Foliage leaves large.

Dendrocalamus asper Suranari clones

There are 5 clones (derived from the countrywide phai tong khiao ["pai tong keaw"] gregarious flowering in the 1990s) tested and selected by the มหาวิทยาลัยเทคโนโลยีสุรนารี (Suranari University of Technology = SUT, Nakhon Ratchasima) as for its outstanding shoot characters (good taste, large shoots and high number of shoots):
  1. 5AS1: ไผ่ตง 5AS1 (phai tong 5AS1);
  2. A11: ไผ่ตง A11 (phai tong A11);
  3. S85: ไผ่ตง S85 (phai tong S85);
  4. Boonchuay: ไผ่ตง บูญช่วย (BC) (phai tong bun chuai (BC));
  5. Kanong: ไผ่ตง คะนอง (KN) (phai tong khanong (KN)).
  • Comments: Apparently, none of these clones have been marketed under their clone names, and their whereabouts remain unclear. It is said that these clones can be found offered for sale in plant nurseries in Prachin Buri and Nakhon Nayok provinces, and supposedly they were mixed up and sold under the name ไผ่ตงศรีปราจีน (phai tong si prachin) (see below).

Dendrocalamus asper cl. Giant
  • Thai names: ไผ่ไจแอ้นท์ (phai chai-aen), which is a phonetic transcription of the English word "giant".
  • Culm size: Height over 20 m, diameter over 25 cm.
  • Images: Photo from Siambamboo; post with photos by Boonthammee Bamboo Garden in facebook, 24 Nov. 2015.
  • Characters: Lower culm without branches, without hairs, culms covered with whitish deposit; culms thin-walled (1.3 cm by 20 cm diameter).

Dendrocalamus asper ‘Thai Black Shoot’

    Dendrocalamus asper ‘Thai Black Shoot’ (BS-0130):
    Basal part of a one year old culm (left), clump with new shoots which are blackish when emerging from ground (center),
    a new young shoot with ivory-white pubescent culm leaf sheaths (right)

  • Synonym: Dendrocalamus asper ‘Thai Black’.
  • Thai name: ไผ่ตงดำ (phai tong dam); ดำ (dam) = black, dark.
  • Distribution: Chiefly cultivated in Prachin Buri, distributed throughout Thailand.
  • Local distribution: In Chiang Mai, not frequently planted; occasionally offered for sale at Kham Thiang Market as ไผ่ตงดำ (phai tong dam).
  • Culm size: 10 - 20 m height, 10 - 12 cm diameter.
  • Comments: Maybe similar is "Dendrocalamus asper 'Nubian Queen' ... dark culmed variety recently grown from seed" (

  • Dendrocalamus asper ‘Thai Black Shoot’ (BS-0130): Upper section of a culm leaf, showing sheath, auricles, ligule and blade, abaxial view (left), adaxial view (right)

  • Specimens: BS-0130 [E5] (living plant), northern Thailand, cult., Dec. 2004; BS-0130-1 [BBG] (living plants), Prachin Buri, eastern Thailand, cult., 19 July 2011.
  • Characters: (1) Culms about 20 m long; culm internodes dark green, covered with white powder when young; nodes nearly glabrous; foliage leaves large and thick, green to dark green; young shoots emerge black, flesh white, of exquisite taste, without splinter, weight 3 - 6 kg. — (2) Culm size dimensions: Basal culm 0.9 m above ground, culm diameter 10.5 cm, wall thickness not measured; lower culm 2.8 m above ground, diameter 8.4 cm, wall 1.4–1.5 cm; mid-culm 11.9 m above ground, diameter 4.5 cm, wall 0.4–0.5 cm; upper culm 14.8 m above ground, diameter 2.1 cm, wall 0.5–0.6 cm; culm apex 19.2 m.
  • Uses: Shoots for food, culms for construction; frequently planted.
  • Cultivation requirements: Easy growing in heavy moist soil with good drainage, exposed to full sun.

Dendrocalamus asper ‘Thai Green Shoot’
  • Synonym: Dendrocalamus asper ‘Thai Green’.
  • Thai names: ไผ่ตงเขียว (phai tong khiao); transcription variants of เขียว (khiao) is "kheaw", "kaew", "khaew"; เขียว (khiao) = green.
  • Distribution: Thailand, cultivated chiefly in the North and North-East.
  • Local distribution: In Chiang Mai frequently planted; offered for sale at Kham Thiang Market as ไผ่ตงเขียว (phai tong khiao).
  • Culm size: 5 - 12 m height, smaller than 12 cm diameter.

  • Dendrocalamus asper ‘Thai Green Shoot’ (BS-0181, BS-0229):
    A young shoot, with greenish-ivory pubescent culm leaf sheaths (BS-0181) (left), a culm in its first year, showing a pubescent internode (BS-0181) (center),
    a new young shoot with greenish-ivory pubescent culm leaf sheaths, and a one-year old glabrous culm nearby (BS-0229) (right)

  • Specimens: BS-0181 &c., comprising BS-0181 [-], BS-0229 [BBG], BS-0229-1 [-] (living plants).
  • Characters: Shoots emerge one month earlier than phai tong dam, of various diameter but most productive; culms a little smaller in diameter, green to dark green, smooth, thin-walled, not strong; foliage leaves somewhat smaller and thinner, dark green; flesh of young shoots yellowish white, of sweet with slightly bitter taste.
  • Uses: Shoots for food.
  • Comments: The phai tong khiao strain flowered in Prachin Buri province (and elsewhere in Thailand) 1994 - 1996 (1998); a few clumps survived. The new generation is a shoot production variety well adapted to sandy loam soils, and to insufficient water supply and low air moisture content during dry season.

Dendrocalamus asper ‘Si Prachin’
  • Thai names: ไผ่ตงศรีปราจีน (phai tong si prachin).
  • Distribution: Cultivated in Prachin Buri, distributed throughout Thailand, chiefly to the North and North-East.
  • Characters: Culms somewhat smaller in height than phai tong dam and phai tong khiao, weak, easy to bend and break; culm internodes dark green, glabrous, shiny, thin-walled; branches many, from lower culm up to apex; foliage leaves somewhat small, darker green than in other varieties; young shoots emerge green, weight 1 - 4 kg.

Dendrocalamus asper ‘Tong Mo’
  • Thai names: ไผ่ตงหม้อ (phai tong mo), ไผ่ตงใหญ่ (phai tong yai); transcription variant of หม้อ (mo) is "mor"; [mo = pot; yai = big, large].
  • Culm size: 20 - 30 m height, 20 - 30 cm diameter.
  • Characters: A variety with tallest and biggest culms, to 30 m tall or taller, by 20 - 30 cm diameter; clump more open; lower culms with only few branches; foliage leaves comparatively small; shoots big, weight can be 5 - 8 (10) kg. Distinguishing characters from cl. Chiang Run and cl. Giant are unclear.
  • Uses: Shoots for food; not frequently planted.

Dendrocalamus asper ‘Tong Nu’
  • Thai names: ไผ่ตงหนู (phai tong nu), ไผ่ตงเล็ก (phai tong lek), ไผ่ตงหมู (phai tong mu).
  • Distribution: Northern Thailand, mainly but infrequently planted in Lampang and Chiang Mai.
  • Culm size: 8 m height, 3 - 5 (6) cm diameter.
  • Characters: Similar to phai tong dam (‘Thai Black Shoot’) but culms smaller in size; shoots smaller, weight 1 - 3 kg.
  • Comments: A cultivar not much appreciated, rarely planted and difficult to find.

Dendrocalamus asper ‘Tong Lai’
  • Thai names: ไผ่ตงลาย (phai tong lai) (A. Anantachot, 1991: 47-48).
  • Distribution: THAILAND, cultivated.
  • Culm size: not recorded.
  • Characters: not recorded.
  • Comments: ลาย (lai) translated means stripe or striped, hence it likely refers to a variety with striped stem or striped leaves.

Dendrocalamus asper ‘Betung Hitam’

    Dendrocalamus asper ‘Betung Hitam’ (BS-0244): A few years old clump (left), a new young shoot with ivory-white pubescent culm leaf sheaths (right)

  • Thai name: ไผ่ตงดำบาหลี (phai tong dam bali). Indonesian name: Betung hitam; Indonesian "betung" means large bamboo, and "hitam" means black. Occasionally, the spelling "petung hitam" is found. "Petung" is both, Javanese (Romanized from Javanese script), and Buginese (spoken in Sulawesi/Celebes) (Romanized from Lontara script).
  • English name: Bali Black Asper Bamboo.
  • Distribution: THAILAND, in cultivation; first introduced into Thailand from Hawaii (U.S.A.) in 2009, and from Florida and California (U.S.A.) in 2010. Origin of this cultivar is Bali, Indonesia.
  • Culm size: Height 25 (30?) m, diameter 20 cm.
  • Images: Photos, BambooDownUnder (culms).
  • Specimens: BS-0244 [E1], BS-0457 [-] (living plants).
  • Characters: Culms black.
  • Uses: Plants as ornamental.

Dendrocalamus asper — Nusa Verde
  • Thai names: None. Indonesian names: Bambu betung (Bahasa Indonesia), awi bitung (Sundanese), deling petung (Javanese), buluh batung (Batak), buloh betong, buloh panching, pring petung.
  • Distribution: INDONESIA, in Java, Bali and on most major islands. THAILAND, might have been introduced by mid 2011.
  • Culm size: Height 18 - 30 m, diameter 15 - 20 (30) cm.
  • Images: Photos in BambooLand (culms of an Indonesian plant, not cl. Nusa Verde).
  • Characters: Culms erect with pendulous tips, branches few, foliage leaf blades 30 cm long. It is said that Thai and Indonesia plants of D. asper differ markedly.
  • Uses: Culms chiefly for construction purposes, also for furniture and musical instruments; shoots for food.
  • Cultivation requirements: Easy and fast-growing; in full sun, but might grow even taller and better in association with trees or as poor bamboo forest, soil sandy loam to clay loam, normal moisture-retentive to moist with good drainage. Recorded to be cold-tolerant to -5 °C. Does not prefer dry conditions.
  • Comments: (1) The Nusa Verde clone is definitely of Indonesian origin and propagated through tissue culture by Bambu Nusa Verde, Java, Indonesia. (2) There are 5 cultivars of D. asper recorded from Indonesia, but names are not given (E. A. Widjaja [Ref. 1091]). (3) Occurrence of natural hybridization with D. asper in Indonesia was recorded (E. A. Widjaja [Ref. 1091]), but no gregarious or widespread flowering of this species.

Dendrocalamus asper — Yunnan
  • Specimens: BS-0628 [BBG,SSG], BS-0628-1 [-], BS-0790 [-], BS-0825 [-] (seeds), received from FMXG, Yunnan, southern China, as "Dendrocalamus asper, 马来甜龙竹 (ma lai tian long zhu)", 2010–2015, plants raised from seed.
  • Characters: Height 15–20 m and diameter 6–10 (12) cm was recorded.
  • Cultivation requirements: Recorded to be cold-tolerant to -4 °C.
  • Flowering and seeding: Compilation of Bamboo Seeds: BS-0628 etc.
  • Specimens: BT1001, BT1003 [BBG], (seeds), received from YNBN, Yunnan, southern China, as "Dendrocalamus asper", 2016–2017, plants raised from seed.
  • Flowering and seeding: Compilation of Bamboo Seeds: BT1001, BT1003.

Dendrocalamus asper — Prachin Buri
  • Specimens: BS-0697 [BBG] (seeds, culm sheath, living plant), seeds and culm sheath coll. as "ไผ่ตงเขียว" (phai tong khiao), "Dendrocalamus asper", by ธ. ล. from flowering plant at roadside of road #118 (Chiang Mai - Chiang Rai), about 30 km beyond Royal Project, Huai Hong Khrai (ห้วยฮ่องไคร้) Study Center, A. Doi Saket, Chiang Mai Province, 29 Feb. 2012; seeds sown 5 Mar. 2012, seedlings raised.
  • Characters: Culm height "tall", not recorded, culm diameter 12.5 cm. Other characters not yet recorded.
  • Cultivation requirements: Grows well in full sun or part shade, soil normal moisture-retentive with good drainage.
  • Flowering and seeding: Compilation of Bamboo Seeds: BS-0697.
  • Comments: Identification as Dendrocalamus asper is not yet confirmed. The plant is said to originate wild from Prachin Buri.

Dendrocalamus asper — Saraphi
  • Specimens: BS-0147 [BBG] (seeds), coll. by ธ. บ. from cultivated, flowering plant, Saraphi (สารภี) District, Chiang Mai, Feb. 2014; seeds sown 28 Feb. 2014, seedlings raised.
  • Flowering and seeding: Compilation of Bamboo Seeds: BS-0147.

Dendrocalamus asper — Samoeng
  • Specimens: BS-0269 [N2] (living plant), สถานีเกษตรหลวงปางดะ ต. สะเมิงใต้ อ. สะเมิง เชียงใหม่, Royal Agricultural Station Pangda, Samoeng Tai Subdistrict, Samoeng District, Chiang Mai Province, northern Thailand, cult., received as "ไผ่หกวัดจันทร์ ปล้องแดง" (phai hok wat chan plong daeng), 12 Sep. 2009.
  • Characters: Habit tight caespitose. Rhizome pachymorph, short. Culms straight, erect, slightly bending outward above, nodding apically, over 15 m tall [ultimate height not yet known]. Young shoots dark purplish when emerging, changing to light grayish with growth; emerge July/August. Culm-internodes terete, (1) 6–20 cm long on basal culm (much shortened towards base and trumpet-shaped), 20–35 cm long on lower culm, 35–40 (42) cm long on mid-culm; initially covered with whitish fuzzy hairs, becoming light brown to mid-brown pubescent on basal and lower culm, greenish pubescent on mid and upper culm, not farinose; diameter 13 cm on lower culm [ultimate diameter not yet known]; thick-walled on basal culm, lumen may be filled with pith in lower culms of a few centimeters in diameter. Culm-nodes pubescent, flat; sheath scar marginally or not protruding; supranodal line discernible, not ridged, about 1 cm above nodal line; with a whitish sericeous ring below and above sheath scar; buds solitary, rotund to subrotund to ovate (broader than high), from basal node up on smaller culms, lacking on nodes of basal and lower culm of thicker diameter (diam. 10+ cm, the first bud present on node at 1.95 m above ground); with aerial roots on basal and lower culm. Branches several, central dominant, with 2 subdominant side branches, and smaller ones, unbranched on basal, lower and mid-culm; branching intravaginal; rebranching. Culm-leaves (late) deciduous on lower, mid and upper culm, persistent or loosely attached to, and decaying on basal culm. Culm-leaf sheaths 60 cm wide at base and 37 cm long (on lower culm, diam. 10 cm), longer than internode on basal and lower culm, shorter than internode on mid-culm, about two thirds as long as the internode, thickly papery, rigid, brittle, light grayish when young, with light pinkish or orange tint, light straw-colored when dry, dark straw-colored when old, covered with pale to light brown short soft hairs; margins dark purplish when young, pale ciliate when young; apex broadly rounded, with middle part (about 10 cm wide) horizontal or slightly convex depressed. Culm-leaf auricles about 3 mm low waved rim-like connections from blade base to sheath margin, dark purplish when young, irregularly pale to brown hairy or fringed, without bristles, or with a few very short pale caducous bristles. Culm-leaf ligule about 5–6 mm high, dark purplish when young, irregularly short whitish ciliate or short fringed. Culm-leaf blades leathery, persistent or late caducous, patent to reflexed, triangular to broad lanceolate, about 14 cm long, about a third as long as the sheath length on lower culm, width of junction with sheath about 4 cm or one third of sheath apex width; dark purplish when young, adaxially pale to brown hairy near base; apex attenuate; margins pale ciliolate when young, convolute. Foliage-leaves 7–10 per branchlet. Foliage-leaf sheaths green, initially slightly hairy, becoming glabrous, light straw-colored when dry. Foliage-leaf auricles and oral setae absent. Foliage-leaf ligule 1.5–2 mm high. Foliage-leaf blades mid-green to dark green, large, up to 41 × 6 cm (on immature plant), glabrous on both surfaces, velevety pubescent beneath when young; base rounded to wedge-shaped; margins antrorsely scabrous; apex attenuate; midrib prominent, proximally light green; petiole 3–6 mm long, 2 mm broad.
  • Comments: At the Royal Agricultural Station Pangda, where this bamboo is kept in cultivation, it was said that two "forms" exist, one with reddish culms (ปล้องแดง plong daeng), the other with grayish culms (ปล้องเขา plong khao). I received the "form" with reddish culms (BS-0269 [N2], 12 Sep. 2009), which was planted out at Baan Sammi, and when the plant has developed large culms, it became obvious that it is a species different from plants signposted as "ไผ่หกวัดจันทร์" (phai hok wat chan) at the Bamboo Center, Royal Project Foundation, Mae Hia. From 2015 onwards, the plant was big enough, with culms over 15 m tall, which clearly show characters of culm-internode and culm-leaf as identical to Dendrocalamus asper.