From April 8, 2014
After just emailing you there are some additional details that occurred to me. The “rufas” were originally collected by the Shanghai Botanic Garden and offered to van der Palen in the Netherlands who acquired them. Later Susanne acquired them and decided to tissue culture the wider-leafed one. So far as I know, the narrower-leafed one has not been tissue cultured yet.
The following blue text is quoted from van der Palen’s website:
In the spring of 1995, I received a fax sent from the Botanical Garden of Shanghai, asking if I would be interested in specific bamboos. A staff member of the Botanical Garden had collected two bamboos in the south of the Chinese province Ganzhu. These plants were collected at elevations of 1,800 to 2,500m (5,900 to 8,200 feet) at latitude 34°20 N and longitude 106°00 E.
Here the average annual temperature is 8°C (46°F), and temperatures go down to -16.8°C (0°F) in winter. During the summer, the highest temperature can be 29.6°C (85°F).
We decided to call these plants Gansu 95-1 and Gansu 95-2 for the time being. The young plants of Gansu 95-1 grew amazingly well. In the first winter, it was observed that the leaves did not curl in dry conditions, during frosts or in direct sunlight, unlike the leaves of Fargesia nitida and Fargesia murieliae. Even the shedding of leaves, as is usual preceding winter with most Fargesias, was limited. This bamboo had no difficulty at all with the severe winter of 96/97, when temperatures went down to -19°C (-3°F) with the graceful leaves remaining green. Only extended periods of very low temperature with dry continental winds are endured less well by this bamboo than by the leaf-rolling types.
Already in April new shoots appear, which is in fact too early for the young shoots, which are sensitive to late frost. The height of the culms is between 2 and 3 m and because of the large number of leaves the culms arch over. New culms develop about 5-15 cm from the plant so after 5 years the plants can attain a diameter of up 2 m. This bamboo takes up available space at least three times as quick as Fargesia murieliae. In fact this bamboo would look its best in parks and large gardens, adding a fine touch to these places. The deep green leaves and the plant’s full silhouette stand in dynamic contrast to more static plants like Rhododendrons, cherry laurel and yew.
Naming the new plants
Our friends in China who sent us the plants proposed the name Fargesia spathacea. However, this name had already been assigned unjustly to Fargesia murieliae and later on to Fargesia nitida, and this time too, it did not fit.
In southern Gansu only a few bamboo species are found. The plant certainly was not Yushania confusa and we already knew Fargesia dracocephala. Then we came to Fargesia rufa. The visual resemblance with the two pictures of this species in the most important Chinese bamboo book ‘A Compendium of Chinese Bamboo’ and also the region of origin pointed in this direction. From then on, when the plants were distributed among growers and collectors this name started to lead its own life. When we study this species in more detail, we find characteristics of both Fargesia dracocephala and Fargesia rufa, both species being native to this region. It should be clear that bamboos from natural resources do not easily fit our classification systems.
My proposal is to name this bamboo Fargesia ‘Rufa’, given its already widely known name. Not only does the name sound well, but also when in the future the species should be known more exactly, the species name can easily be placed between the generic name Fargesia and the cultivar name ‘Rufa’. Gansu 2 was also a nice bamboo, but it turned out to be a shade tolerant form of Fargesia nitida, and it did not grow much higher than 2m (61/2 feet). >>
The latitude/longitude location using Google earth shows it to be a particularly rich floristic area in Gansu that, as I remember, the Arnold Arboretum and other institutions were particularly interested in visiting. They may have done so by now.
Susanne probably has additional information.