Plants shrub-like, in very dense spreading clumps; rhizomes leptomorph. Culms erect, distally flexuose, to 0.5–1.7 m, self-supporting, pluricespitose; internodes flattened on the branching side; nodes prominent, 2-ridged, supranodal ridge often very prominent; branches 3–5 per node, slender, equal, often without secondary branchlets, usually with persistent membranous prophylls and branch sheaths; buds weakly developed, open at front, prophyll membranous, narrow, with complete sheathing, only two branch initials visible. Culm sheaths papery, distally membranous, deciduous, tessellate venation distinct; auricles absent; ligule long, acute; blades short, narrow, awn-like, erect. Leaf sheaths often solitary, thickened, persistent, fused with branchlet; or several, loose, papery with membranous margins, acropetally shorter; auricles absent; blades lanceolate to nearly ovate, tessellate venation evident, the margins serrulate, basally cuneate, the apex acute. Synflorescence bracteate, partially iterauctant, racemose, clusters of spikelets subtended by large bracts. Spikelets sessile, 0–1 empty bracts, 0–3 gemmiferous bracts, florets 2–7. Glumes 2–3; anthers 3; stigmas 3. x = 12. Named after Keita Shibata (1877-1949), Japanese botanist and biochemist who named many species of bamboo.
Shibataea is a genus of ca. 5 small species, probably native to forests of both China and Japan. The dense, erect, short-branched culms, along with short, densely arranged leaf blades and slowly-spreading rhizomes make it suitable for clipping into neat mounds in Japanese gardens.