Plants forming dense clumps. Rhizomes pachymorph, neck to 15 cm. Culms pendulous, probably to ca. 6 m tall; internodes terete, to 15-25(-30) cm, to ca. 2.5 cm in diam., bright green with light deciduous blue-grey wax at first, becoming yellow-green, or red to dark purple after exposure, smooth, glabrous, walls thick; nodes not prominent, supra-nodal ridge obscure, sheath scar prominent, initially lightly tomentose; branches initially 5-9, strong and angular. Culm sheaths very persistent, much longer than internodes, to 40 cm, narrowly triangular, distally very thin, basally thick-papery, initially light green, variably purple-spotted and blotched at first, sparsely to densely and persistently purple-setose, each bristle in a dark spot or blotch, apex of new shoots broad and inflated and often pink to purple, margins prominently long-ciliate, base glabrous or with sparse hairs; auricles to 1 mm, reflexed, an undulating band merging into blade base, purple, tomentose; oral setae absent; ligule to 3 mm, fimbriate, tomentose; blade short, narrowly lanceolate to lanceolate, glabrous, reflexed, deciduous. Leaf sheath often distally pink-purple, glabrous but distal margins lightly pubescent and apically shortly ciliate, shoulders level; auricles large, falcate, reflexed, often purple; oral setae many, spreading, straight or wavy, white, to 10 mm; ligule truncate, to 0.5 mm, tomentose, long-fimbriate; external ligule to 0.5 mm, tomentose, shortly ciliate; blade to 12 cm, broadly lanceolate to linear-lanceolate, light green, base rounded to cuneate, abaxial very shortly pilose to villous by basal midrib and onto pseudopetiole, adaxial densely very shortly pilose, secondary veins 3-4-paired, margins spinescent-serrulate, transverse veins weak. Florets with basal ring of tufted white hair, lemmas longer to much longer than paleas, apically shortly ciliate and sparsely scabrous.
Only known from seed and young plants, the seed very widely sold from Yunnan, China by a private company from 2011, and then resold by other seed suppliers, mainly online. It does not seem to match the published description of any Fargesia or Borinda species precisely. Many seed collections were made, from different parts of Yunnan up to 200 miles apart. As very young plants batches all appeared very similar, but some seedlings show substantial differences, such as broader leaf blades with longer or less pubescence, and shorter culm sheaths with larger blades. The description above is from the first seed available, sold as F. yunnanensis.
Fast-growing bamboos, with pendulous culms carrying light green foliage leaves on long branchlets. The culms can be attractive, with light blue-grey wax on distal parts of culm internodes at first, the culms darkening to shades of purple after exposure, but they can be obscured by dense foliage and long, persistent culm sheaths. The first leaves on a branchlet are broad, while later leaves become quite narrow. There is substantial variation between seed provenancies. However, they all seem well distinguished from other species by their long-fimbriate ligules along with naked auricles on culm sheaths, and falcate auricles with spreading setae on leaf sheaths, as well as long culm sheaths, often distally inflated at shoot apices so that new shoots appear to have been eaten at the tip. Long sheaths are reflected in the long, broad, often broken apices to the lemmas, making the unhusked seed quite distinctive. The dense purple hairs and spots on the culm sheaths are similar to those of T. syrinx.
Marketed globally from 2011 under many different names (listed above). The florets all had basal beards and long lemmas. It seems highly unlikely that 10 different species of hardy clump-forming ‘Fargesia group’ bamboos were flowering and seeding at the same time. They are not F. papyrifera, F. yunnanensis, or F. albocerea, nor (apparently) F. fungosa, as cultivated in the west at least, see T. syrinx. Fargesia similaris is not well known, but has tough culm sheaths and like F. yuanjiangensis, no leaf sheath auricles. The names F. songmingensis, F. huaningensis, and F. gaolinensis are unpublished, but it has been suggested that they represent varieties of F. yunnanensis, which is a spreading bamboo, also known as Yushania yunnanensis. A remarkable number of misidentifications or adoptions of new unpublished names seem to have occurred for these seed batches, which then appear to have been mixed or diluted at some point in supply chains.
The plants are vigorous, but they are only hardy down to about -6°C (28°F) before damage to leaves and late shoots begins. Large quantities of seed were marketed and resold, and many plants raised for sale. The lack of foliage frost hardiness has been a disappointment to many, especially as the seed was marketed as hardy to -25°C, but spring regrowth of leaves is at least prompt.
Caveat emptor applies to most internet bamboo seed and plants, but now unfortunately care is required on purchase of any bamboo sold under any of the above names, as any of them could be Tongpeia arachnoides instead.
Tarzanus (2011-12). Fargesia fungosa - starting from seed. At www.bamboocraft.net/forums
Canadianplant et al. (2011-12) Starting Fargesia species from seed. At www.bambooweb.info/bb
Olivier D. et al. (2013) Semis Fargesia. At www.bambous.fr/forum
Rumoured to have been first collected by Professor Tan Hongchao of Chinese University of Yunnan, in Gaolin, Songming Xian at 2100 m, but seed also collected from various other localities.