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A genus of dwarf or medium-sized bamboos, spreading by vigorous much-branched rootstocks, natives of Japan, Korea, Sakhalin and the Kuriles. Stems (culms) cylindrical, hollow, with persistent sheaths. Branches solitary at each node. Leaves relatively large, with numerous secondary veins and conspicuous cross-veins (not in fact very conspicuous to the naked eye, but easily seen under low magnification if the leaf is held up to the light). Inflorescence a panicle; flowers with three to six stamens.
The three species treated here are easily distinguished from Arundinaria, certainly from its dwarfer species, by the much broader leaves, rarely less than 11⁄2 in. wide. For dwarf bamboos included in Sasa by E. G. Camus, but not belonging to Sasa as now understood, see Arundinaria chrysantha, A. disticha, A. humilis, A. pumila, A. variegata, A. viridistriata.
Arundinaria japonica, included in Sasa by some authorities, has broad leaves, but is far taller than any of the species treated here and does not run at the root.
For an up-to-date account of the genus by David McClintock, see the European Garden Flora, Vol. 2, p. 63. In this work the segregate genus Sasaella is recognised, with about twelve species in Japan. To this would belong Arundinaria ramosa (Makino) Makino (A. vagans Gamble); see this supplement, under Arundinaria vagans.