Plants shrub-like, densely clumping; rhizomes pachymorph, short-necked, the necks less than 25 cm. Culms unicaespitose, nodding to pendulous; internodes smooth, terete, glabrous; nodes slightly swollen, supranodal ridge evident, lower nodes often with a ring of aerial roots visible as small dark primordia or developed into sharp thorns; branches initially 3-5 per mid-culm node, reflexed, subequal; budscale two separate, short, single-keeled bracts, margins free and not closed at front or back. Culm sheaths usually papery, deciduous; blades well developed. Leaf sheaths usually deciduous; blade matt, thin, often broadly lanceolate, venation tessellate. Synflorescence ebracteate, with paniculate branching, semelauctant; spikelets robust, pedicellate, with 4-12 florets. Glumes 2, without buds. Stamens 3; stigmas 2.
Name from the Greek cheimon, ‘winter’, and calamus ‘cane’, referring to the late summer to early winter appearance of new shoots of some species.
Chimonocalamus is a genus of approximately 10 species, native to subtropical and warm temperate montane regions of Yunnan, Tibet, Vietnam, NE India and Burma, with variable development of root thorns at the culm nodes, especially at lower nodes. Nodal and branching characteristics are similar to those of Chimonobambusa, often with rings of thorns and a prominent supra-nodal ridge, although there are frequently 5 branches instead of 3. However, the rhizomes are pachymorph rather than leptomorph, producing very tight clumps, and the culm sheath blade is well developed. Like Chimonobambusa they have a tendency to shoot late in the season, but this is dependent upon site and climate.
These bamboos are called ‘fragrant bamboos’ in China, because of the good flavour of their shoots, and this genus is the main source of edible shoots from temperate, rather than tropical bamboos.