Every bamboo produces shoots, but only 10-15 of the hundred or so species produce shoots that reach markets. These fall into three broad categories:

Spring bamboo shoots (mo sun): as illustrated, measure 3-5 inches in diameter at the base and about 10 inches in length; the outer leaves are fuzzy, hence the Chinese name, which means 'hair shoots'

Winter bamboo shoots (doeng sun) are about half the size but identical in shape to spring shoots; these are dug up while the shoot is still dormant or just beginning to grow

Summer bamboo shoots (jook sun): a small species that produces shoots the size of thin asparagus, seldom available in markets outside of China

Each species has its characteristic flavor and degree of sweetness, as well as size and season. Nevertheless certain generalities hold true: winter shoots are the choicest, smaller shoots of any variety are more tender, and those less green should be sweeter.