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Chusquea culeou - E.Desv.

Common Name Culeu
Family Poaceae or Gramineae
USDA hardiness 6-9
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Montane woodlands in the Andes[162].
Range S. America - Argentina, Chile.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade
Chusquea culeou Culeu

Chusquea culeou Culeu


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Chusquea culeou is an evergreen Bamboo growing to 5 m (16ft) by 2.5 m (8ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 7. It is in leaf all year. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Wind.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


C. andina. C. breviglumis.

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; Shady Edge;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Shoots  Stem
Edible Uses:

Young shoots - cooked[25, 177].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

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None known

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Musical  Wood

The canes are used in making musical instruments, plain furniture and fencing[139].

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Prefers a damp humus rich soil[200]. Prefers an open loam of reasonable quality, doing well on peat[11]. Likes plenty of moisture in the growing season[11]. Established plants are drought tolerant[25, 162, 195]. They require a position sheltered from cold north and east winds[11, 200]. A very hardy plant[25, 162], tolerating temperatures down to about -15°c[200]. Another report says that the plant is probably only hardy in the milder areas of the country[1]. It succeeds outdoors at Edinburgh Botanical Gardens[195] and is growing well at Kew[K]. This species is found further south in the world than any other species of bamboo, it grows in Chile as far south as latitude 47°south[195]. The rootstock is caespitose, new shoots are produced from late April and can grow 15cm overnight[25]. Plants take 2 - 3 years to settle down after being moved but are then quite fast growing[162]. Another report says that they are slow growing[188]. This species is notably resistant to honey fungus[200]. Plants flower and produce seed annually in the wild without dying as a result of the flowering[162]. Plants of the cultivar 'Tenuis' have been observed to be flowering in 1994, this is the first record of this species flowering in the northern hemisphere[214].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - surface sow as soon as it is ripe in a greenhouse at about 20°c. Do not allow the compost to dry out. Germination usually takes place fairly quickly so long as the seed is of good quality, though it can take 3 - 6 months. Grow on in a lightly shaded place in the greenhouse until large enough to plant out. Seed is rarely available. Division in spring as new growth commences. Very difficult[200]. Take divisions with at least four canes in the clump, trying to cause as little root disturbance to the main plant as possible. Grow them on in light shade in a greenhouse in pots of a high fertility sandy medium. Mist the foliage regularly until plants are established. Plant them out into their permanent positions when a good root system has developed, which can take a year or more[200]. Basal cane cuttings.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Chusquea quilaArgentinian quilaBamboo5.0 6-9  LMHSM203

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment



Botanical References


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Readers comment

Tom Bennett   Fri Oct 29 22:13:19 1999

For several years I grew Chusquea culeou in my garden in the north-east of England. It was originally given to me by the late John Treasure, of Tenbury Wells who got it from Christopher Lloyd, the noted plantsman and author of E. Sussex.

It thrived in a windy and somewhat miserable position, on medium soil, overlying heavy clay (though never waterlogged) and reached a height of 2.5m with a clump circumference of, I suppose, 4m. From an original one cane in 1989, there were 20-25 by 1997.

It never gave me any cause for concern and I propagated several plants for friends who admired it. I found that always at the base of the clump were some very small and wispy canes (with the diameter of straw). If one carefully scraped the soil away from around these, attached roots could be seen. If these canes and roots were detached from the clump in early May with a razor blade and potted-up, a plant good enough to plant out by the following late summer could be had.

I'd always understood that C. culeou didn't set seed in the UK, or if it did it wasn't viable - and this brings me on to the main point of this e-mail.

In 1998, my plant set masses of seed. On the offchance I gathered some last August and sowed it straight away. Within a fortnight it had germinated and was coming up like mustard and cress. I now have 50 plants, pricked-out and potted-up in 3.5" pots, mostly at the 5-6 cane stage. I did lose some but seeing as I moved to S.E England late last year, and I wasn't as careful of them as I should have been, they've come through very well.

Your entry on the net suggests C. culeou is tricky; my experience is that it is robust. It isn't difficult to propogate by division and my seedlings belie all I had previously read. Is my experience a fluke? I can't tell you whether or not the original plant has survived its seeding as, sadly, it was just too big to bring with me. When i last saw it last Xmas, it had enough green amongst the brown leaves to suggest it was probably going to pull through.

- Tom Bennett Stondon Massey, Essex.

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