Rhizome neck 1–5 cm. Culms 1–5 m, 5–15 mm in diam., pendulous, in tight clumps; internodes 15–23 cm, light green, becoming yellow, with light to dense powdery wax initially, glabrous, smooth, wall 2–3 mm; nodes with weak supra-nodal ridge, sheath scar prominent; branches 8–15, arcuate to spreading, developing in first yr., branchlets green to red. Culm sheaths persistent, oblong, apex asymmetrically rounded, thinly leathery, shorter than internodes, glabrous, longitudinal ribs prominent but not dark, margins glabrous; auricles and oral setae absent; ligule ca. 1 mm, broad, densely ciliolate, tomentose; blade triangular or linear-lanceolate, erect or reflexed. Leaves 1–3(-5) per ultimate branch; sheath initially green, one margin distally shortly white ciliate; auricles absent or as fused setae bases; oral setae 1-2(-3), 3-7 mm, basally thick, erect, apically weak, often divided, curled; ligule truncate ca. 1 mm, entire, glabrous; blade broadly linear-lanceolate, 6–12 × 0.7–1.5 cm, delicate, bright matt green, basally broadly attenuate, apically long acuminate with fine tips, both surfaces glabrous, secondary veins 3–4-paired, one margin spinescent-serrulate, transverse veins distinct. Racemes basally enclosed in glabrous sheaths with glabrous margins, 3–12 glabrous reduced sheaths subtending spikelets; spikelets usually with 2 fertile florets. Lemma distally lightly scabrous, long acuminate. Palea deeply bifid, usually c. 3 mm shorter than lemma. Anther tips blunt.
F. murielae is one of the hardiest and most widely planted ornamental bamboos. Flowering began in the 1970s, yielding many seedling cultivars, which vary greatly in vigour, sun/heat tolerance, height, colour of leaf sheaths and culm waxiness. Newly introduced (cross-pollinated) seedlings offer better prospects of large size, vigour, health and hardiness than the self-pollinated western seedlings.
This species was first published as A. sparsiflora, but the name murielae became so widely used that permission was obtained from the plant name authorities to use murielae rather than changing to sparsiflora (conserving murielae against the rejected name sparsiflora).
Spelling murieliae was and still is often used instead, as this would be the standardised form for species names derived from a personal name such as Muriel. However the spelling murielae was added to a list of exceptions in the International Code of Nomenclature 60C.2, by Prof. Werner Greuter, after long and contentious discussions (Greuter 2000: 211-217), on the dubious grounds that ‘Muriela’ represents a ‘well established Latinised form’ of the personal name Muriel, with the disingenuous comment that even if it doesn’t really, then it does if the Code says it does.
Introduced from the Shennongjia Mts, Hubei Province, where it grows in forests and grassland in the karst limestone scenery. Wilson collected #1462 on 17 v 1907, and asked G. S. Gamble to name it after his daughter Muriel. Recollected as seedlings by Fred Vaupel in 2003 from the same locality.