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Stems 6 to 8 ft high, 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. thick, more or less glaucous, with a few erect branches near the top, hollow; joints 5 or 6 in. apart. Stem-sheaths glabrous, terminated by a narrow, lanceolate tongue, which is strongly tessellated and edged with minute bristles, but soon falls away. Leaves bright green above, glaucous beneath, 6 to 13 in. long, 11⁄2 to 3 in. wide, confined to the apex of the branches, broadly wedge-shaped at the base, with long, slender points; secondary veins seven to thirteen at each side the midrib, very strongly developed, and giving the leaf a ribbed appearance; tessellation minute; margins set with bristles, which fall away with age.
Native of Japan; introduced about 1889. This has the largest leaves of all hardy bamboos except S. tessellata, and is undoubtedly one of the noblest of them all. The stems and leaves are apt to get somewhat battered and shabby with age, and it is a good plan every few years to cut the plants back to the ground entirely. If this be done in May, taking care not to injure the young, pushing stems, the plant will soon be furnished with a perfectly fresh set of leaves. The only defect of this bamboo is its extraordinarily rampant habit. It is no uncommon thing for a young stem to push through the ground a yard or two away from the previous ones. It is not a suitable neighbour for other shrubs, but is very well adapted for the undergrowth of thin woodland.
S. palmata flowered for the first time in Europe in 1961-8.