Description from Flora of China
Arborescent or shrubby bamboos. Rhizomes leptomorph, with running underground stems. Culms diffuse; internodes profoundly flattened or grooved on one side above branches; nodes 2-ridged. Branches 2, subequal, rarely with a much smaller, central or lateral 3rd branch. Culm sheaths deciduous, papery to subleathery; ligule usually conspicuous; usually auricled with long bristles; blade usually recurved or reflexed. Leaf blade with distinct transverse veins, usually abaxially pilose proximally. Inflorescence bracteate, partially iterauctant, composed of 1–7-spikeleted racemes gathered into fascicles or globose mass subtended by a tiny, membranous, 2-keeled prophyll, 0 or 1 gemmiferous bract, 2–6, gradually enlarged scaly bracts, and 2–7 spathiform bracts. Spikelets with 2–7 florets, terminal sterile. Glumes absent to 1(–3). Rachilla extending beyond uppermost floret, disarticulating just below fertile florets. Lemma variable in size and texture; palea 2-keeled, apex bifid; lodicules 3, ciliate. Stamens 3. Style long; stigmas (1–)3, plumose. Caryopsis elliptical to linear-lanceolate, dorsally grooved.
Phyllostachys is indigenous in China but is also widely and extensively cultivated. Originally it may have been largely endemic to China, but many species were introduced to neighboring countries, especially Japan, at a very early date. Phyllostachys species are now extensively cultivated in neighboring Asian countries, and several have become naturalized there, while some are possibly native. Many species have more recently been introduced to other parts of the world, including Europe and North and South America, but they remain principally ornamental plants outside eastern Asia. Phyllostachys species are probably of greater economic importance than any other bamboos in China and are used for building, paper, flooring, furniture, edible shoots, and as ornamentals.
At least 51 species: China, India, Japan, Myanmar; introduced to many other countries; 51 species (49 endemic) in China.
(Authors: Wang Zhengping (王正平 Wang Cheng-ping); Chris Stapleton)