Fargesia sp. 'Scabrida'                                      

Height: 10' to 15'
Canopy Width: 3' to 20'
Culm Diameter: " to "
Hardiness: -5 F
Light Tolerance: 1 through 4
USDA Range: 6 through 9
2 gallon:  $45
5 gallon:  $80
10 gallon $150

    This beautiful Clumping Bamboo is new to cultivation in western gardens.  First described and identified in the 1970's by Professor Yi, Chendu Forestry College, China, Fargesia sp. 'Scabrida' was found growing among the high altitude rain forests of Pingwu, in northern Sichuan, China. It was documented along with nearly 80 other species of Fargesia (though some later separated into different genera) found by Yi and his colleagues in  mountain ranges extending west through the Himalayas. There 'Scabrida' remained hidden for many years, virtually forgotten and later disregarded as another form of F. nitida. It was probably most appreciated by the Giant Panda, the new shoots providing an important food source in the lower elevations of its range.
    In the 1990's, due to the sudden increase of bamboo popularity in Europe and the United States, horticulturalists began to long for greater depth and diversity among cold hardy Clumping Bamboo.
Jos van der Palen of Kimmei Nursery in Holland, a plant collector and one of horticulture's most important bamboo pioneers, is responsible for introducing many new and useful species. In the spring of 1997 Jos received a package sent by his contact in the field, Mr. Xingcui, containing a plant he found at 8,800 feet elevation in the rainforest of Pingwu. Thus, the first 'Scabrida' found its way west.
    After about a year, inspired by the new plant's apparent hardiness and strong growth, Jos divided the original and gave several pieces to his friends. This soon created a commotion as bamboo collectors spoke among each other in hushed tones about a new Fargesia; one that can not only withstand full sun, but also prolonged exposure to frost and icy winds.  
    Even more impressive is the myriad of colors: Purple and pastel blue new shoots supporting culm and branch sheaths which take on a rusty-orange glow at certain times of the year, especially in the fall when the nights grow cold and short days bring coastal rain storms.  I have always been amazed with the subtle color changes 'Scabrida' shows throughout the course of a season. As individual culms age, their color fades to a light olive green. Sometimes the orange color is very subtle and other times it begs to be noticed.  The day after I took several of these photos at Bamboo Garden, in North Plains, Oregon, I went back for a second try but it had changed overnight. The vibrancy had somehow faded, most likely due to lack of water condensation. Though still an impressive plant, the brief window of intense color had passed on for now.
    The foliage remains constant; crisp, dark green leaves, slender and elegant. They always seem well proportioned and organized; a lightly draping  pattern radiating from a hidden central point.
   
    Its growth habits are fairly vigorous for a Clumping Bamboo, a young, two gallon plant can grow over 10 feet tall with more than a hundred culms within five or six years. Expect 1 to 3 feet of height gain per year. Its ultimate height is somewhat of a mystery, as it has not been grown here long enough to reach maturity. The original plant sent from Pingwu had culms that were 3/4 inches in diameter, which would suggest a height of about 16 or 17 feet. The largest we have seen is 11 feet tall at Bamboo Garden, on a five year old plant. 
    Give 'Scabrida' the very best care possible:  Rich, well draining soil and 2 to 5 hours of direct morning sun.  In the Pacific Northwest, it is tolerant of full sun exposure, but for inland climates without coastal influence, it will do best with dappled shade or at least protection from the hot afternoon sun.  For optimal growth, it should watered thoroughly 2 to 4 times per week through the summer, as determined by the weather. When well established, it appears to be fairly drought tolerant.
   This elegant Clumping Bamboo will never spread out of control; it is anatomically impossible for its root mass to produce a long spreading rhizome. See Care and Maintenance for a detailed look at a clumping root system.
     Fargesia sp. 'Scabrida' seems has proven to be a useful bamboo in western horticulture. Perhaps it (along with F. robusta and other clumping bamboo) will finally tip the scales of public opinion toward acceptance of bamboo as a viable option for the home and garden in the United States, overcoming popular and long held fears about running bamboo.




     Noah Bell, Shweeash Bamboo
     Close up of branch pattern at node, see the spider on the second branch from the left?



  Noah Bell, Shweeash Bamboo
The tip of a new shoot in spring time.



Noah Bell, Shweeash Bamboo
New shoots have pink culm sheaths, photo taken mid-March.

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Noah Bell, Shweeash Bamboo


Noah Bell, Shweeash Bamboo

Close up of a cane showing purple branches and rusty-orange leaf sheaths radiating from the node

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Noah Bell, Shweeash Bamboo

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Noah Bell, Shweeash Bamboo
In the summer, Scabrida has lighter colors than in fall and winter.


Noah Bell, Shweeash Bamboo
Fargesia sp. 'Scabrida' shows some of its best colors in the late fall. Photos taken at Bamboo Garden.


Noah Bell, Shweeash Bamboo


Noah Bell, Shweeash Bamboo


Noah Bell, Shweeash Bamboo


Noah Bell, Shweeash Bamboo

 
 
Noah Bell, Shweeash Bamboo
Winter sunlight illuminating 'Scabrida' leaves with a light coating of frost.
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Noah Bell, Shweeash Bamboo