Dendrocalamus giganteus

Dendrocalamus giganteus Munro

Upper section of culm-leaf
of Dendrocalamus giganteus,
line drawing
from Flora of China.

  • Synonyms: Sinocalamus giganteus (Munro) A. Camus.
  • Thai names: ไผ่เป๊าะ (phai po) (Northern); ไผ่โปก (phai pok) (Chiang Mai); ไผ่หวาน (phai wan) (Chiang Mai); ว่ากวา (wa-kwa) (Karen: Mae Hong Son); ; Ref.: — ไผ่ยักษ์ (phai yak), ไผ่พม่า (phai phama), ไผ่ปักกิ่ง (phai pak king), ไผ่ยักษ์ปักกิ่ง (phai yak pak king). Chinese scientific name: 龙竹 (lóng zhú, dragon bamboo); Chinese common names: 苦龙竹 (kǔ lóng zhú, bitter dragon bamboo), 大苦竹 (dà kǔ zhú, big bitter bamboo).
  • English name: Giant Bamboo.
  • Distribution: THAILAND: northern and western borderland to Myanmar, native, in mixed deciduous forest and dry evergreen forest, cultivated in Chiang Mai Province; MYANMAR, native. INDIA: North-East, native; BHUTAN; CHINA: Yunnan, records might concern D. giganteus and a different species. — Map 23 in Bamboo Biodiversity, INBAR, 2003.
  • Culm size: Height 25–30 m, diameter 15–30 cm. A cut, 105 ft (32 m) long culm was reported from northern India (BP-YG).
  • Descriptions:
    (1) "The tallest of bamboos with close culms and slender branches. Culms 24-30 m tall, 20-30 cm diameter, usually 2-2.5 cm thick-walled, dull green, covered with white waxy crust when young; internodes 35-40 cm long, lower nodes with root scars. Culm-sheaths 30-50 cm long and broad, falling early, hard, smooth, shining within, dull yellow and covered with dark-brown hairs on the back; ligule 8-13 mm high, stiff, dark, serrate; auricles prominent, brown, crisped; blade 13-38 cm long and up to 9 cm broad, spreading at right angles, stiff, acuminate, edges inflexed. Young shoots cone shaped, pinkish brown, glabrous, glaucous green on maturity; auricles very small or absent; blades sharply pointed, generally reflexed. Leaves variable in size, in main culm up to 50 cm long and 10 cm broad, oblique, oblong, acuminate, smooth above, hairy beneath; petiole 3-5 mm long; ligule 2-3 mm high, serrulate; auricle small, glabrous. ..." — Bamboos of India, 1998: 105.
    (2) "Culms 20–30 m, 20–30 cm in diam.; internodes 30–45 cm; wall 1–3 cm thick. Branches several. Culm sheaths deciduous, initially purple, thickly leathery, brown hairy; margins broadly rounded; auricles reflexed, wavy; oral setae absent; ligule 6–12 mm, serrulate; blade reflexed, ovate-lanceolate, 13–38 cm. Leaf sheaths glabrous; ligule 1–3 mm, serrulate; blade usually oblong-lanceolate, to 45 × 10 cm. ..." — Flora of China.
    (3) J. S. Gamble, Bambuseae Brit. India, 1896, p. 87. (4) E. A. Widjaja in S. Dransfield & E. A. Widjaja (editors), Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 7, Bamboos, 1995: p. 85-87, fig. [#1226]. (5) Munro, Trans. Linn. Soc. London, 26, 1868, p. 150. (6) Flora of Taiwan [#1106]. (7) K. M. Wong, Bamboos of Peninsular Malaysia, 1995: p. 111-112, fig. 54-55 [#1210]. (8) Kew GrassBase. (9) PROTA, Wageningen Univ., accessed 27 Oct. 2017 [#1243].
  • Images: Line drawing in Gamble, 1896, pl. 76; Flora of China; Flora of Taiwan [#1106]; PROTA. Photos in AsianFlora (culms); Bamboos of India (habit, culms); K. M. Wong, Bamboo - The Amazing Grass, 2004: fig. 60 (shoot apex, culm sheath) [#1048]; photos (D. giganteus from Nan, northern Thailand) by Niramit Sareerudt in facebook, 26 Jan. 2014.
  • Videos: "Giant Bamboo Biggest in Thailand 1" by Nanbamboo Thailand, 20 Dec. 2013. "Dendrocalamus Giganteus Time Lapse 2012" by Robert Saporito, 11 July 2012.
  • Further references:
  • Characters: Distinguishing vegetative characters of three giant species of genus Dendrocalamus.
  • Uses: Shoots for food, culms for construction.
  • Culm harvest: Thinning and harvesting culms of thick old clumps of any giant bamboo is an extraordinary challenge. A detailed report on how this can be done, and was done with a clump of D. giganteus, was published by Vimal Dhiman: "Harvesting Giant Bamboo", in Yahoo Group "bamboo-plantations", in August 2012.
  • Comments: (1) Flowers and seeds known. (2) Populations of ไผ่ยักษ์น่าน (phai yak nan) have also been recorded from Nan Province, northern Thailand, occurring native (Photos by Niramit Sareerudt in Facebook, 2013). Characters of these plants seem to show some minor differences: Culm sheaths seem to be glabrous or nearly so, culm sheath blades erect or recurved (reflexed), young shoots pinkish with rather dark culm sheath blades and auricles.

Dendrocalamus giganteus (BS-0338):
Culm-leaf ligule and auricle in a young shoot

  • Specimens: BS-0338 [R07] (living plant), Kanchanaburi, western Thailand, cult., received 28 Nov. 2009.
  • Characters: Rhizome pachymorph, short, forming culms of tight caespitose habit. Young shoots emerge from April/May to September. Culm-internodes 30–45 cm long, dull green to grayish-green, smooth, farinose when young, moderately thick-walled (wall usually 2–2.5 (3) cm by 20–30 cm in diameter). Culm-nodes hairy beneath, nodes on basal culm with aerial roots. Branches many at a node from midculm up, usually unbranching on lower culm, 1 branch dominant. Culm-leaf sheaths 2/3 as long as internode length on lower culm, shorter than 2/3 but longer than 1/2 on mid-culm, size very large, about 50 cm long by 50 cm broad at base, early deciduous, thickly coriaceous, purple when young, dull yellow when dry, thinly and throughout covered with dark-brown stiff hairs, glabrous on shoulders, margins broadly rounded, top rounded and often much depressed. Culm-leaf blade usually recurved, edges waved and often involute, purplish green when young. Culm-leaf auricles prominent wavy and crisped stiff rim-like pro­tuberances, black when young, brown when dry, glabrous, bristles absent. Culm-leaf ligule stiff, black when young, 0.6–1.2 (1.5) cm high, irregularly serrate, with few ciliae. Foliage leaves 5–15 per branchlet. Foliage-leaf blades 15–45 (50) cm long by 3–6 (10) cm broad, asymmetrical, glabrous and smooth above, hairy beneath when young, margins rough; main vein prominent, cross veins distinct; pseudo­petiole 3–5 mm long. Foliage-leaf sheaths striate, glabrous. Foliage-leaf ligule 2–3 mm high, erose, some­times cleft in the middle. Foliage-leaf auricles inconspicuous.

Dendrocalamus giganteus (BS-0202):
Young leafy branch, showing long, dark purple
foliage-leaf ligules with concave entire margin

  • Specimens: BS-0597 [BBG] (living plant), Thailand, without precise locality, possibly from Kanchanaburi, cult., received 1 Dec. 2010; BS-0597-1 [BBG] (living plant), Kanchanaburi, cult., received 21 Mar. 2011; BS-0789 [R07] (living plant), Thailand, without precise locality, cult., received 6 Dec. 2013.
  • Specimens: BS-0202 [†] (living plant, died), received as ไผ่ตงหวานปักกิ่ง (phai tong wan pak king) from a nursery in Lampang, 9 Dec. 2008, died 2011.
  • Characters: Habit tight clump. Rhizome pachymorph, short. Culms erect. Culm internodes farinose, bluish-green, glabrous, thin-walled or moderately thick-walled (6th internode 118 cm above ground with wall 1.5 mm thick by 1.0 cm culm diameter). Culm nodes slightly prominent. Branches several, central dominant. Foliage leaves: Foliage leaf sheaths light green with orange tint, glabrous, upper sheath margins purplish; foliage leaf auricles and oral seatae none; foliage leaf ligule long, dark purple, concave, entire; foliage leaf blades medium-sized or large, usually 25 cm long and 5.0 cm wide, mid-green, glabrous on both surfaces.
  • Uses: Shoots for food.
  • Comments: BS-0202 is likely Dendrocalamus giganteus, possibly introduced from China as the Thai name suggests.
  • Specimens: BS-0028 [C5] (living plant), northern Thailand, without precise locality, coll. by C. S., #3097, received as "Dendrocalamus giganteus", 28 July 2011.
  • Characters: Habit very tall and caespitose. Rhizome pachymorph. Culms erect, potential length unknown, possible over 20 m. Young shoots reddish, with dark hairs, with blades dark green to purplish-black and erect to slightly patent, emerging from April/May. Culm-internodes glabrous, slightly farinose, bluish-green when young, green when mature, diameter over 10 cm, moderately thick-walled. Culm-nodes not prominent, with a narrow white ring below and above sheath scar, lower nodes usually with short aerial roots. Branches few, dominant branch with two subdominant side branches present, unbranching on lower culm. Culm-leaves early loosing, but reflexed 180° and attached to the culm in the middle of sheath base for long a time. Culm-leaf sheaths large, almost as long as internode on lower and mid-culm, thickly papery or coriaceous, abaxially scattered with short reddish-brown to dark brown stiff hairs, margins entire and eciliate on upper section, dark brown ciliolate on lower section when young, apex rounded, middle part of apex slightly depressed. Culm-leaf auricles a crispy, firm, low rim, blackish when young, about 3 mm high, extending towards the ends to an almost oval-shaped lobe of double height, with several waved bristles about 5 mm long. Culm-leaf ligule low, entire to dentate. Culm-leaf blades deflexed, triangular in lower and mid-culm. Foliage-leaves about 10 per branchlet. Foliage-leaf sheaths glabrous. Foliage-leaf auricles none or inconspicuous, without bristles. Foliage-leaf ligule conspicuous, entire, orange when young. Foliage-leaf blades not yet observed, base unequally rounded to wedge-shaped.
  • Comments: This bamboo was provisionally determined as Dendrocalamus giganteus. Characters are somewhat intermediate between D. giganteus and D. copelandii. Exceptional are the rim-like auricles which extend into bristly lobes, which are neither seen in D. giganteus nor in D. copelandii.


Dendrocalamus giganteus (?) (BS-0028): Young shoot (left), apex of culm-leaf sheath in a young shoot, showing rim-like auricles extending into bristly lobes (right)

  • Specimens: BS-0649 [BBG,SSG], BS-0649-1 [-], BS-0649-2 [-], BS-0827 [-] (living plants), raised from seeds received from FMXG, China, 2011–2015.
  • Flowering and seeding: Compilation of Bamboo Seeds: BS-0649 etc.
  • Comments: The plants are a species of Dendrocalamus, but species identification as D. giganteus has not yet been confirmed.