Rhizome neck 4--10 cm long. Culms 2--4 m, 0.3--1 cm in diam., very dense, pendulous; internodes 5--18 cm, cylindrical, smooth, lightly white-powdery initially, becoming glossy dark green with purple spots, often apically purple-red, becoming orange-yellow, wall to 5 mm thick; nodes with weakly prominent supra-nodal ridge, sheath scar level and tall, mid-culm branches 6--8. Culm sheaths slowly deciduous, basally leathery and smooth, light brown with prominent red-brown ribs, apically asymmetrically rounded with a persistent red band below the blade, much shorter than internodes, glabrous, margins densely yellow-brown-setose; auricles absent; oral setae absent; ligule ca. 1 mm, truncate, initially ciliolate; blade oblanceolate, erect or reflexed, glabrous, margins setose. Leaves 3--7 per ultimate branch; sheath thick, glabrous with outer margin densely white-ciliate at first, usually apically red with yellow veins; auricles and oral setae absent; ligule ca. 1 mm, truncate, purple, shortly tomentose, external ligule not evident, tomentose; blade lanceolate to fusiform, 7--10 × 0.6--1.5 cm, slightly thickened, glabrous, basally cuneate, apically long-acuminate, secondary veins 4--5-paired, one margin shortly spinescent, the other obscurely serrulate, transverse veins distinct, petiole yellow. Inflorescence racemose, unilateral; spikelets shortly pedicellate, usually subtended by densely pubescent reduced sheaths. Shooting June to July. Name from apex, ‘tip’ and rubens, ‘red’ for the distally red-coloured sheaths and internodes.
Introduced from S Shaanxi in 1979, and initially grown under the name Daba Shan No. 2, it flowered in 1988--1990. Lacking in distinctive vegetative characters, but it develops prominent ruby-red tips to leaf sheaths, shoots, and internodes. It has been misidentified as F. dracocephala in the west.
The cultivar ‘White Dragon’ has new leaf blades variously white-striped or completely bleached white in Spring, the variegation turning more yellow-green in summer, and is apparently smaller in stature. It looks best in a shaded location against a dark background. In bright sun the variegated leaves are easily scorched.
From the Daba Shan Ranges that separate S Shaanxi and NE Sichuan, in 1979.