The taxonomy of China’s bamboos still remains in a largely unrevised state as of 2016. The majority of the species has been described since 1980, frequently without knowledge of the flowers, due to the often very long flowering cycles (up to 150 years). Generic delimitation has often been highly speculative and remains controversial[
Many species in Fargesia lack dense, spathed, unilateral inflorescences. As their flowers have become known, it has been proposed that several should be moved into the genus Borinda, which has been established specifically to accommodate such clump-forming species. In order for all these species to be listed under the same genus, we are following the treatment in the Flora of China[
] where they are all temporarily maintained under Fargesia[
The relationships among Fargesia, Thamnocalamus, Yushania, and allies are currently (2016) under investigation[
Borinda utilis (T.P.Yi) Stapleton
Fargesia utilis is a clump-forming, evergreen bamboo that can grow around 4 metres tall; the erect, woody culms are 15 - 25mm in diameter with internodes 15 - 17cm long[
]. The plant spreads slowly by means of short rhizomes, eventually forming quite a large, dense clump.
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and source of materials.
E. Asia - southwest China (Yunnan)
We have no specific information, but Fargesia species are generally found as an understorey in evergreen broadleaved to coniferous forest, depending on elevation. This species is found at elevations from 2,700 - 3,700 metres[
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Fargesia utilis is native to mountain regions in warm temperate to subtropical regions of southwest China where the climate is moist to wet, with warm to hot summers and mild to cold winters. The genus Fargesia is, in general, one of the hardiest genera of Bamboos and most species, if not all, experience at least some frost and snow in their native habitat. It should be possible to grow most of these species at least in the warmer regions of the temperate zone, with some species hardy to zone 5.
Succeeds in full sun and in partial shade. Species in this genus generally tolerate a wide range of soils and sites, though they prefer a damp humus-rich soil in sun or semi-shade[
]. They grow best in a position sheltered from cold winds[
]. Plants are generally not very tolerant of dry conditions[
Bamboos have an interesting method of growth. Each plant produces a number of new stems annually - these stems grow to their maximum height in their first year of growth, subsequent growth in the stem being limited to the production of new side branches and leaves. In the case of some mature tropical species the new stem could be as much as 30 metres tall, with daily increases in height of 30cm or more during their peak growth time. This makes them some of the fastest-growing species in the world[
Bamboos in general are usually monocarpic, living for many years before flowering, then flowering and seeding profusely for a period of 1 - 3 years before usually dying. This pattern can vary - sometimes flowering is sporadic, with plants flowering annually and not dying; at other times it is gregarious with all the plants in a specific species coming into flower at the same time.
The shoots are edible[
]. The shoots are harvested in the spring when about 8cm above the ground, cutting them about 5cm below soil level.
The culms are used for making furniture[
Seed - it has a short viability and should be surface sown as soon as it is ripe, Sow in a container in light shade in a greenhouse at about 20°c. Do not allow the compost to dry out. Germination usually takes place fairly quickly so long as the seed is of good quality, though it can take 3 - 6 months. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots once they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a lightly shaded place in the greenhouse until large enough to plant out, which could take 2 - 3 years.
Bamboo plants only flower at intervals of several years and so seed is rarely available.
Division as the plants come into growth in spring. Take divisions with at least three canes in the clump, trying to cause as little root disturbance to the main plant as possible. Grow them on in light shade in a greenhouse in pots of a high fertility sandy medium. Mist the foliage regularly until plants are established. Plant them out into their permanent positions when a good root system has developed, which can take a year or more[
Basal cane cuttings.