There were many highlights to our botanical trip to the southeast USA earlier this year, including a visit to the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens at the Historic Bamboo Farm in Savannah, Georgia. The institution does indeed have a lot of history (from their web site): "[The Barbour Lathrop Bamboo Collection] is the result of the USDA's effort to introduce to the public, particularly southern farmers, the many uses of bamboo. The collection began in 1902, when Barbour Lathrop asked Dr. David Fairchild to obtain plants for him in Japan. Organized collecting began in earnest in 1906 by Frank Meyer, a USDA plant explorer, and continued with Dr. F.A. McClure until 1945. With over 150 species, this is the largest collection of bamboo available for public viewing in the United States."
Phyllostachys elegans, or elegant bamboo, was scientifically named and described by the same Dr. McClure in the Journal of the Arnold Arboretum in 1956. Names and descriptions of plants have to be based on a physical object, i.e., a specimen of some kind (typically a dried plant specimen, but historically an illustration would also have sufficed). This specimen that is used to define the species is designated the type specimen. Reading Dr. McClure's account (New Species in the Bamboo Genus Phyllostachys and Some Nomenclatural Notes), I noted the type specimen for Phyllostachys elegans was from a plant in the Barbour Lathrop Bamboo Collection, having the identification number 128778--the same as the plant in today's photograph. In other words, the species Phyllostachys elegans was named and described from this exact plant. From the label: "Phyllostachys elegans. Elegant bamboo. Plant #128778. Max ht. 32ft. Max. dia. 2.25". Min. Temp. 0F. Collected 1936 by F. A. McClure, Hainan Island. Received 1938, USDA, Savannah, Georgia. Origin: China. Prized as ornamental and for shoots."