Plants shrub-like, densely clumping, the rhizomes pachymorph; rhizomes pachymorph, necks to 25 cm. Culms unicespitose to 2–4 m tall, 1–2 cm thick, woody; internodes terete, not finely ridged.Branch complement 3 to many per node, developing from a single bud. Culm sheaths deciduous. Leaf sheaths persistent, ligule a ciliate membrane; pseudopetiole present; blade with evident tessellation abaxially. Synflorescence a dense, contracted panicle or raceme, with occasional fasciculation and no pulvini; branches usually subtended by a substantial sheath or a ring of hairs. Pseudospikelets with 1 to several florets; glumes 2, more or less equal, longer than the adjacent lemmas, unawned; lemmas 10-11-veined, unawned, sometimes mucronate; palea with several veins; anthers 3; ovary glabrous; style branches 3. Name from the Greek thamnos, ‘shrub’, and kalamos, ‘reed’, referring to the habitat of the species.
Thamnocalamus, interpreted broadly here, is a genus of 6-7 species, native to the Himalayas and S Africa, sharing condensed spathate synflorescences and certain characters of leaf anatomy (Soderstrom & Ellis 1982). It has sometimes been considered to include Fargesia and Himalayacalamus, but differs substantially in branching and bud characters (Stapleton 1994), having fewer branches, all subtended by sheaths. Inclusion of the S African species T. tessellatus in this genus is a temporary measure.
Soderstrom, T.R. ,& Ellis, R.P. (1982). Taxonomic status of the endemic South African bamboo, Thamnocalamus tessellatus. Bothalia 14(1): 53–67.
Stapleton, C.M.A. (1994) The bamboos of Nepal and Bhutan, Part 2: Arundinaria, Thamnocalamus, Borinda, and Yushania. Edinburgh J. Bot. 51:275–295.