Plants shrub-like; rhizomes pachymorph, necks similar in length, up to 30 cm. Culms in a single dense clump (unicespitose), to 5 m tall and 2.5 cm in diam., erect, apically nodding to pendulous; internodes to 30 cm, terete, smooth, without fine purple spots, green to blue-grey with light persistent wax, becoming glossy, glabrous; nodes scarcely raised. Branches 3--7 per mid-culm node at first, without promontory, subequal, deflexed, lateral branch axes lacking subtending sheaths; buds at mid-culm broadly lanceolate to ovate, open at front (closed at culm base), 3--9 initials visible within. Culm sheaths usually long-triangular, papery and persistent, often with prominent dark spots around scattered bristles, apically loose; blades short, reflexed, deciduous; ligule often long-fimbriate. Leaf sheaths persistent; blade matt, thin, venation indistinctly tessellate. Synflorescence ebracteate, semelauctant; branching racemose to paniculate, erect, never unilateral, shortly-exserted from narrow subtending sheath. Spikelets several-flowered. Stamens 3. Stigmas 2-3. Named after Yi Tong-Pei, bamboo taxonomist in Sichuan.
Tongpeia is a temperate to subtropical genus that currently includes 3 species names for 2-3 species native to Yunnan, 2 species being in western cultivation, both sent from China, the first sent as Fargesia fungosa, and the second as seed under a wide assortment of names, including Fargesia fungosa.
Unlike Fargesia, and similar to Borinda, in that the flowers are in panicles or racemose panicles, never in tight racemes, and the culms lack dark spots. The leaves are also usually thinner, less glossy, and lighter green. Unlike the culms of Borinda, which are finely ridged, the culms are smooth.
There are several Chinese species currently in Fargesia that do not belong in either Fargesia or Borinda, as shown by laboratory investigations reported by Ye et al. 2019. The publication of Tongpeia starts to deal with these species, which have varied characteristics, but the correct placement of them all will requires further research and will not be possible without more botanical fieldwork in China. The 2 species in widespread cultivation in the west both have long culm sheaths that are very loose at the apex when the shoots are young, and small dark spots on the culm sheaths where bristles arise.
Ye, X.Y., Ma, P.F., Yang, G.Q., Guo, C., Zhang, Y.X., Chen, Y.M., Guo, Z.H. and Li, D.Z. (2019). Rapid diversification of alpine bamboos associated with the uplift of the Hengduan Mountains. Journal of Biogeography 2019; 00: 1– 12 https://doi.org/10.1111/jbi.13723