Description from Flora of China
Shrubby bamboos. Rhizomes leptomorph, with long, running underground stems. Culms tillering, pluricaespitose; internodes terete, glabrous, sometimes white powdery or sparsely puberulent below nodes; wall thick; nodes flat in Sasa subg. Sasamorpha or prominent in S. subg. Sasa. Branches solitary, often about as large as culm. Culm sheaths persistent, longer than internodes in S. subg. Sasamorpha, otherwise shorter, papery to nearly leathery; auricles usually developed; blade lanceolate. Leaves usually large relative to culm, in palmate arrangement, transverse veins distinct, margins with substantial necrosis in winter. Inflorescence a loose panicle or raceme, usually subtended by tiny bracts. Spikelets purple or red at maturity, 4–8-flowered; rachilla disarticulating, extended on uppermost floret. Glumes 2, ± hairy, margins long ciliate; lemma ovate or oblong-lanceolate, nearly leathery, long mucronate; palea 2-keeled; lodicules 3, ovate, thin, transparent, margins ciliate. Stamens 6, long exserted; anthers yellow. Ovary ovoid; style 1, short; stigmas 3, plumose. Caryopsis dark brown at maturity.
Chinese species for which the inflorescence is unknown can only tentatively be placed in Sasa. They may represent smaller species of genera such as Pleioblastus, several of which were also included in Sasa in FRPS (9(1), 1996).
Sasa hainanensis C. D. Chu & C. S. Chao (Acta Phytotax. Sin. 18: 31. 1981) and S. subglabra McClure (Lingnan Univ. Sci. Bull. 9: 24. 1940), both based on vegetative specimens, are of very uncertain placement and are not treated here. Sasa guangdongensis W. T. Lin & X. B. Ye (Acta Phytotax. Sin. 26: 148. 1988) was described from Guangdong; it is a little-known species. Sasa magninoda T. H. Wen & Liao (J. Bamboo Res. 10(1): 14. 1991, "magnonoda") was described from Jiangxi; it is a species based on a poor gathering and is possibly not a member of Sasa at all.
Between 50 and 70 recognized species (with very extensive further synonymy): China, Japan, Korea, E Russia; eight species (all endemic) in China.
(Authors: Wang Zhengping (王正平 Wang Cheng-ping); Chris Stapleton)