Plants forming dense clumps. Rhizomes pachymorph, neck 3--6 cm long. Culms to 7 m, to 4 cm in diam., nodding to pendulous; internodes to 25 cm, terete, lightly blue-grey waxy for first year, becoming yellow-green, longitudinal ridges very prominent, distally grey tomentose and apically densely brown setose, cavity large; nodes distinct but not swollen on larger culms, supra-nodal ridge obscure, sheath scar prominent and initially dark; branches initially (3)-5-(7), central stronger. Culm sheaths deciduous, similar in length to internodes, papery to thick, initially light green or purple, lightly brown-setose, more densely at the base, apex narrow, longitudinal ribs not coloured, margins initially distally shortly ciliate; auricles absent or very small; oral setae few, erect, white; ligule to 5 mm, eroded, finely ciliate, glabrous; blade linear, long, glabrous, reflexed, often purple, quite persistent, margins usually glabrous. Leaves 4--8 per ultimate branch, basal blades clustered; sheath variably pubescent, margin ciliate, often dark purple; auricles small, rounded; oral setae few, erect or spreading, stout, light brown or purple-tinged, ca. 1--4 mm, basally scabrous; ligule truncate, to 1 mm, tomentose, shortly ciliate; external ligule shortly white-ciliate; blade narrowly lanceolate to lanceolate, to 15 × 1.5 cm, fresh mid-green, abaxially pubescent, densely pubescent at cuneate base, secondary veins 3-5-paired, margins spinescent-serrulate, transverse veins distinct; petiole long, abaxially pubescent. Name macclureana Latin, in honour of bamboo pioneer and taxonomist Dr Floyd Alonzo McClure (1897-1970).
Moderately sized persistently waxy setose or hairy culms with setose sheaths. Foliage leaves of small to intermediate size with variously hairy sheaths and lower surfaces, and variable auricles with short scabrous bristles. Clones vary in size and habit, with some hardy below about -12°C, and often with prominent dark purple colouration to branches and sheaths after exposure.
At least 45 separate introductions of Borinda macclureana and closely related bamboos have been made, from 10 areas of SE Tibet, by plant collector Keith Rushforth on 4 collecting trips between 1995 and 2000.