Plants shrub-like; rhizomes pachymorph, necks similar in length, up to 30 cm. Culms in a single dense clump (unicespitose), to 5 m tall and 2.5 cm in diam., erect, apically nodding to pendulous; internodes to 30 cm, terete, smooth, without fine purple spots, green to blue-grey with light persistent wax, becoming glossy, glabrous; nodes scarcely raised. Branches 3--7 per mid-culm node at first, without promontory, subequal, deflexed, lateral branch axes lacking subtending sheaths; buds at mid-culm broadly lanceolate to ovate, open at front (closed at culm base), 3--9 initials visible within. Culm sheaths usually long-triangular, papery and persistent, often with prominent dark spots around scattered bristles, apically loose; blades short, reflexed, deciduous; ligule often long-fimbriate. Leaf sheaths persistent; blade matt, thin, venation indistinctly tessellate. Synflorescence ebracteate, semelauctant; branching racemose to paniculate, erect, never unilateral, shortly-exserted from narrow subtending sheath. Spikelets several-flowered. Stamens 3. Stigmas 2-3. Named in honour of Professor Yi Tong-Pei, bamboo taxonomist from Sichuan who documented scores of new temperate bamboos.
Tongpeia is a temperate to subtropical genus that currently includes 3 species names for species native to Yunnan and Sichuan. They have morphological distinctions and flowered at different times. The first published species was initially placed in Fargesia, then moved into Borinda because the inflorescences are open and unspathed, and then separated from Borinda as a distinct genus Tongpeia on the grounds of both morphology and molecular phylogeny.
Tongpeia fungosa was in flower in 1980, and was described as having leaf sheaths ‘hairless, auricle tiny, long-shaped, edge with strong straight or slightly curved setae’, and in Flora of China as ‘auricles purple, falcate, small; oral setae erect’.
Tongpeia syrinx was raised from seed in 1992/3 sent under the name Fargesia fungosa. It has slightly tomentose leaf sheaths with absolutely no auricle, but strong straight setae.
Tongpeia arachnoides was sent as seed from 2011 under very many names, including Fargesia fungosa. It has partially pubescent leaf sheaths with large spreading falcate auricles with strong wavy setae.
Unlike Fargesia, and similar to Borinda, in that the flowers are in panicles or racemose panicles, never in tight racemes, and the culms lack dark spots. The leaves are also usually thinner, less glossy, and lighter green. Unlike the culms of Borinda, which are finely ridged, the culms are smooth.
There are many Chinese species currently in Fargesia that do not belong in either Fargesia or Borinda, as shown by molecular investigations reported by Ye et al. 2019. The publication of Tongpeia starts to deal with these species, which have varied characteristics, but the correct placement of them all will requires further research and will not be possible without more botanical fieldwork in China. The 2 species in widespread cultivation in the west both have long culm sheaths that are loose at the apex when the shoots are young, and small very dark spots on the culm sheaths where bristles arise.
Ye, X.Y., Ma, P.F., Yang, G.Q., Guo, C., Zhang, Y.X., Chen, Y.M., Guo, Z.H. and Li, D.Z. (2019). Rapid diversification of alpine bamboos associated with the uplift of the Hengduan Mountains. Journal of Biogeography 2019; 00: 1– 12 https://doi.org/10.1111/jbi.13723