Plants forming dense clumps. Rhizomes pachymorph, mature neck length unknown. Culms pendulous, probably to ca. 6 m tall; internodes terete, probably to ca. 3 cm in diam., bright green with light deciduous blue-grey wax at first, becoming yellow-green, or red to dark purple after exposure, smooth (longitudinal ridges not evident), glabrous, walls thin; nodes not prominent, supra-nodal ridge obscure, sheath scar prominent, initially lightly tomentose; branches initially (3)-5-(7), strong and angular. Culm sheaths persistent, much longer than internodes, very thin, initially light green, variably purple-spotted and blotched at first, not purple-lined, sparsely purple-setose, each bristle in a dark spot or blotch, apex broad and inflated and often pink to purple, overlapping margin long white-ciliate, base glabrous or with sparse hairs; auricles to 1mm, reflexed, undulating, purple; oral setae absent; ligule to 3 mm, long-fimbriate, tomentose; blade short, lanceolate, glabrous, reflexed, deciduous. Leaves 4-6 per ultimate branch; sheath often distally pink-purple, margins lightly pubescent and shortly ciliate; auricles large, falcate, reflexed, often purple; oral setae many, spreading, delicate, wavy, white, to 10 mm; ligule truncate, to 2 mm, tomentose, long-fimbriate; external ligule shortly ciliate; blade to 12 cm, lanceolate to broadly lanceolate, light green, base rounded to cuneate, abaxial glabrous, adaxial initially sparsely to densely pilose, secondary veins 3-4-paired, margins spinescent-serrulate, transverse veins distinct. Florets with basal ring of tufted white hair, lemmas much longer than paleas, apically shortly ciliate and sparsely scabrous.
Only known from seed and young plants, the seed sold from Yunnan, China by a private Chinese company. They do not seem to match the published description of any Fargesia or Borinda species.
Several seed collections were made from different parts of Yunnan, up to 200 miles apart. As seedlings they all initially appeared very similar. Only time will tell how different they are as mature plants. The description here is made from the first seed batch, sold as Fargesia yunnanensis.
The delicate leaves, culm wax, and florets strongly suggest Borinda rather than Fargesia. They are fast-growing, with thin-walled pendulous culms carrying delicate light green foliage leaves on long branches. The culms are attractive, with light blue-grey wax on distal parts of culm internodes at first, the culms darkening to shades of purple after exposure, but the culms are obscured by dense foliage and long, persistent culm sheaths. As with all seedlings there is considerable variation between plants. However, they all seem well distinguished from other species by their long-fimbriate ligules, with naked auricles on culm sheaths and falcate auricles with spreading setae on leaf sheaths, as well as the long culm sheaths, distally much inflated at shoot apices. This is a characteristic repeated in the long, broad, often broken apices to the lemmas, making seed quite distinctive. The dense purple hairs and spots on the culm sheaths are similar to those of the cultivated B. fungosa.
Marketed from 2011 on the internet, from China, Thailand, Germany and France under the many different names listed above in synonymy. They are not F. papyrifera, F. yunnanenis or F. albocerea. nor B. fungosa, as cultivated in the west at least. Fargesia similaris is not well known, but has tough culm sheaths and no leaf sheath auricles. F. yuanjiangensis has no leaf sheath auricles and 15-18 branches. The names F. songmingensis, F. huaningensis, and F. gaolinensis have not been published, but it has been suggested that these names represent varieties of F. yunnanensis. However, these bamboos are definitely not F. yunnanensis. A remarkable number of misidentifications and adoptions of new unpublished names have occurred for this seed. It is surprising that the documentation of native bamboos in Yunnan is apparently not sufficiently advanced to allow reliable identification.
Attractive bamboos, but reportedly only hardy down to about -6°C (28°F) before damage to foliage and late shoots begins. Large quantities of seed were collected, and many seedling raised, but the lack of hardiness has been a disappointment to many. The use of all these different bamboo species names, several of them not published, will undoubtedly cause great confusion.
Caveat emptor applies to nearly all internet bamboo seed, and now unfortunately to all bamboos grown under these names, including the genuine ones. From the spidery leaf sheath oral setae and its prevalence on the worldwide web, there is a temptation to call them Borinda arachnoides, but that would be yet another name, and it might be more helpful to use the name from the locality in which it was first collected, Borinda gaolinensis, if they turn out to all be the same species.
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
First collected by Professor Tan Hongchao of Chinese University of Yunnan, in Gaolin, Songming Xian at 2100 m, according to ‘KP’, very near to Kunming, also from various other localities.