In spring, reddish-purple fleshy shoots emerge from crimson-pink buds at ground level. These grow rapidly, producing in summer, dense stands of tall bamboo-like canes which grow to 2.1m (7ft) tall. These canes have characteristic purple flecks, and produce branches from nodes along its length.
Leaves are heart or shovel-shaped and up to 14cm (5½in) in length and borne alternately (in a zig zag pattern) along the stems. The stems die back to ground level in winter, but the dry canes remain for several months or longer.
The creamy-white flower tassels produced in late summer and early autumn reach up to 15cm (6in).