Rhizomes pachymorph, necks short, to 10 cm. Culms 5–8 m tall, 2–5 cm in diam., nodding to pendulous, in tight clumps; nodes level or slightly raised, supranodal ridge distinct, lower nodes often with rings of short thorns or small bumps, glabrous; internodes terete or flattened above branches, short, to 20(-30) cm, smooth, no hairs, with light uniform wax at first, matt pale grey-green, becoming orange to yellow, with red colouration where exposed especially on supranodal ridge. Branches initially 3-5 per mid-culm node, absent in basal half of culm. Culm sheaths apically narrowly triangular, similar in length to internodes, quickly deciduous, thinly papery especially distally where tessellation is evident, with sparse to dense short appressed dark brown spiny hairs, proximally retrorse (downward-pointing in the lower half) and basally dense, margins not ciliate; auricles absent or small, triangular, and horn-like; oral setae absent; ligule 2-4 mm, steeply arcuate, often asymmetrical, entire or eroded, often laterally projecting upward to triangular points on one or both shoulders, glabrous; blade lanceolate, 3-8 cm, erect, deciduous. Leaf sheaths sparsely pilose to glabrous, deciduous, light green, abaxial margin shortly ciliate; ligule 1–1.5 mm, rounded, glabrous; auricles very small & rounded to absent; oral setae 1-5, pale, thin, 3–7 mm, deciduous, erect; external ligule very shortly ciliate; blades 3-9 per ultimate branch, lanceolate to broadly lanceolate, to 18 × 2.5 cm, conspicuously tessellate, abaxial and adaxial surfaces glabrous, petiole glabrous. Name pallens ‘becoming pale’ from the grey-green or pale yellow culms.
A handsome species with broad, slightly blueish-green leaves, and red tinges to exposed culms and branches after exposure, but culms fading to pale straw colour later. Not very frost-hardy and prefers shade to sun. Thorns can be well developed on lower nodes, but many nodes are thornless.
Plants of Chimonocalamus pallens cultivated in Kunming were given to the ABS by the author of the name, Prof. Hsueh Ji-Ru, originally collected from Jinping in S Yunnan, and they flowered in 2010/11. Seed was collected from these plants, and further seed has recently been collected in Yunnan and sold on the internet.