Plants forming dense clumps. Rhizomes pachymorph, neck 3--7 cm long. Culms to 4 m, to 2 cm in diam., pendulous; internodes to 20 cm, terete, blue-grey waxy at first, becoming yellow-green, longitudinal ridges very prominent, distally densely light brown setose, cavity small, wall thick; nodes raised, supra-nodal ridge obscure, sheath scar prominent; branches initially (3)-5-(7). Culm sheaths slowly deciduous, slightly longer than internodes, initially deep pink to maroon-red, papery to tough, basally very sparsely and distally sparsely orange-brown-setose, apex broad, longitudinal ribs not coloured, margins initially distally densely long-ciliate; auricles small, irregular, with fusion of setae bases, initially pink; oral setae erect, wavy, white or pink; ligule depressed or level, to 4 mm, eroded, finely ciliate, glabrous; blade linear, glabrous, reflexed, initially green or tinged pink or purple, quite persistent, margins usually glabrous. Leaves 4--8 per ultimate branch; sheath glabrous, margins glabrous, often distally pink-purple; auricles small, a fusion of setae bases; oral setae few, erect or spreading, stout,light brown or purple-tinged, ca. 4--6 mm; ligule convex, to 1 mm, tomentose; external ligule shortly white-ciliate; blade broadly lanceolate, to 15 x 1.7 cm, fresh mid-green, base cuneate, glabrous, secondary veins 4-paired, margins spinescent-serrulate, transverse veins distinct. Synflorescence unknown. Name contracta Latin, compressed, referring to ...?
In the botanical characters that separate species, it is very similar to introductions of Borinda papyrifera from Zhi Ben Shan. It differs in other characters that are horticulturally important, being smaller in stature and slightly hardier, with leaf blades that are smaller and fewer in number during winter, following attractive autumn yellowing. It also has more branching lower down the culm, less culm wax, slightly more persistent culm sheaths with a thicker persistent nodal scar, and more colourful new shoots.
Details of origin and introduction unclear, so it is not known whether the cultivated plants really represent Fargesia contracta as described by Yi from Baoshan Xian.