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The group of bamboos referred to as small bamboo or dwarf bamboo are from China and Japan. Usually not more than 6 feet tall, more often in the 2-3 foot range, some as small as 6 inches. All are runners which makes them very useful for erosion control and as ground covers. Some are very highly variegated usefully to brighten shade areas of the garden. The larger leafed and variegated are usually happiest in shade, all do well with late winter shearing to freshen them up from the winter damage.
Notes about the species
Indocalamus: Looks quite similar to many of the Sasa species, but does not normally suffer the winter leaf damage. Probably the hardiest large leafed bamboos.
Pleioblastus: For the landscape the genius Pleioblastus is quite important because of its variable forms, including some quite attractive dwarfs, a few that are rough looking and attractive medium sized, and a small number that get quite large.
Sasa: Mostly Japanese in origin, the Sasa group is not only noted for being vigorous runners but also happens to be the most northern naturally occurring bamboo, reaching as far as 50 degrees north latitude. Most have quite large leathery leaves.
Sasaella: Very similar to Sasa but has smaller leaves and 3 branches per node. Not originating from as far north, they are not quite as hardy. The variegated ones leaves change through the season
Where available click on thumnail for larger image
(Ht: 7 dia. .5" Deg. 0 f) With leaves up to 24 inches long and as much as 4 wide I. tessellatus may be the largest leafed bamboo in cultivation. Looking best in shady sites wind may be its worst enemy shredding the deep green leaves.
(Ht: 4 dia. .25" Deg. -10) "White striped Bamboo" Striking dwarf bamboo. Very aggressive. Leaves more white than green. Prefers shady areas.
(Ht: 2 dia. 1/8 in. Deg. 10 f) "Pygmy Bamboo" Good for erosion control and planters on decks. Very aggressive. Looks best if sheared in late winter.
(Ht: 3 dia. .25" Deg. 0 f) New leaves are gold with fine green stripes. Spectacular in spring. Prefers shady areas. Shear in late winter.
Sasa kurilensis simifori
(Ht: 6 dia. .5" Deg. 0 f) With fairly large leaves air brushed with white stripes one should grow this boo in shade as the leaves burn in the sun.
(Ht: 5 dia. .25" Deg. 0 f) The relatively short wide leaves get a pseudo-variegated look in winter as the cells at the leaf margins burst turning them white.
Sasaella mas. Albostriata
(Ht:6 dia: .25" Deg: 0 f) A very attractive ground cover bamboo with quite thick leaves. The leaves have cream variegation in the spring turning mostly green by summer's end. In some areas may be a rampant to spread.