Stems reaching sometimes nearly 20 ft high in this country and bent somewhat stiffly, 11⁄2 in. in diameter, deep yellow when mature. Leaves 2 to 5 in. long, 1⁄4 to 3⁄4 in. wide, tapering or rounded at the base, slender-pointed, dark green above, glaucous beneath, glabrous except at the base of the midrib beneath, and toothed – especially on one margin; stalk 1⁄8 in. or less long; leaf-sheath with a tuft of bristles at each side near the top; secondary nerves three to six each side the midrib.
Native of China, long cultivated in Japan; introduced about 1890. In foliage it resembles P. aurea, under which the distinctions are pointed out. It requires a sheltered spot and abundant sunshine to develop its best qualities, and does not recover from injury by cold so rapidly as P. aurea. The stems are never truly erect, but are bowed, with usually also an inclination to twist. The stems when young grow with great rapidity, sometimes nearly 1 foot in twenty-four hours in this country – more in hotter ones. They are the stoutest among our hardy bamboos. In Japan the young shoots are cooked and eaten; according to Lord Redesdale they are flavourless, but have a crisp and pleasant consistency.
cv. ‘Heterocycla’ (‘Kikko-chiku’) Tortoise-shell Bamboo. – Although this curious bamboo has been given specific rank as P. heterocycla (Carr) Matsum., it is simply a cultivated form of P. pubescens. It is distinguished by the joints of the stems near the base not circling them in the ordinary way, but taking diagonal directions, the normal space between the joints being suppressed at each side alternately. Thus the scars join at opposite sides alternately for 1 or 2 ft up the stem, when it assumes its normal form and the scars become horizontal rings. The plant is not well adapted for this country, and I have never seen a single characteristic stem produced here. The popular name – of Japanese origin – refers to the humped appearance of the space between the joints. This distortion is a freak of nature, and is not, as was once believed, due to the handiwork of Japanese gardeners. Introduced from Japan to France about 1877, and to England in 1893.