Phylogenetic relationships among temperate species of bamboo are difficult to resolve, owing to both the challenge of detecting sufficiently variable markers and their polyploid history. Here, we use restriction site–associated DNA sequencing to identify candidate loci with fixed allelic differences segregating between and within two temperate species of bamboos: Arundinaria faberi and Yushania brevipaniculata. Approximately 27 million paired-end sequencing reads were generated across four samples. From pooled data, we assembled 67 685 and 70 668 de novo contigs from partial overlap among paired-end reads, with an average length of 240 and 241 bp for the two species, respectively, which were used to investigate functional classification of RAD tags in a blastx search. Analysed separately by population, we recovered 29 443 putatively orthologous RAD tags shared across the four sampled populations, containing 28 023 sequence variants, of which c. 13 000 are segregating between species, and c. 3000 segregating between populations within each species. Analyses based on these RAD tags yielded robust phylogenetic inferences, even with data set constructed from surprisingly few loci. This study illustrates the potential for reduced-representation genome data to resolve difficult phylogenetic relationships in temperate bamboos.