Rhizome neck 8–20 cm. Culms to 6(–10) m, 0.5–3 cm in diam., densely clumped, erect to drooping; internodes to 15–25 cm, finely ridged, with light to dense glaucous wax at first, uniformly blue-green with red-purple bands at node, becoming intense lilac-purple after light cold if wax remains, then glossy dark green to luminous translucent yellow and then orange to red-brown; wall 3–6 mm thick; nodes slightly raised, sheath scar broad, white; branches 8–25, central dominant. Culm sheaths glabrous, much longer than internodes, distally long-acuminate and apically very narrow, margins only distally ciliate, blade narrow, reflexed, quickly deciduous; auricles and oral setae absent; ligule narrow, long, to 2 cm, entire, glabrous. Leaves 3–10 per ultimate branch; sheaths glabrous; auricles and oral setae absent; ligule rounded, to 2 mm long, tomentose; blade narrow, glabrous. Spikelets 1–(2); pedicels to 20 mm; lemma pubescent, prominently mucronate, margins distally long-ciliate; palea pubescent, keels scabrous.
Named hookerianus in honour of Sir J. D. Hooker, who first collected the species in 1848, writing about it in his journal.
This elegant and striking bamboo, found from E Nepal to W Bhutan, differs from other species of Himalayacalamus in its long-attenuate culm sheath apex with finely ridged culm internodes. The glaucous culm wax is persistent in protected sites, and in combination with the red tinges added to the internodes during the cool but just frost-free winters in its natural Himalayan environment, a dramatic and unique intensely blue-purple colour can appear for a while, although this colour can be difficult to reproduce in cultivation. The elegance of the foliage with narrow pendulous leaves makes it still worth cultivating in areas with light frosts, even if the dramatic culm colours are not so evident.
Stapleton, C.M.A. (1994). The blue-stemmed bamboo: Himalayacalamus hookerianus. The New Plantsman 1(1): 1-9. PDF (Draft)
Stapleton, C.M.A. (1994). The bamboos of Nepal and Bhutan Part III: Drepanostachyum, Himalayacalamus, Ampelocalamus, Neomicrocalamus, and Chimonobambusa (Gramineae: Poaceae, Bambusoideae). Edinb. J. Bot. 51(3): 301-330. PDF
Himalayacalamus hookerianus was introduced into the UK in the 19th century from Sikkim in the E Himalayas, where it is cultivated and harvested, notably for weaving large mats used for roofing. First described from a flowering collection called Praong probably made near Ravangla, above Yangang (Neongong), and leaves from Yuksom, where it can still be seen.