There are several plants out there that are confused as bamboo or that act as “bamboo imposters”. Today, I’d thought we would go over some of the most common “bamboo like plant” plants –just for fun.
Four plants commonly confused with bamboo
Don’t ever mention lucky bamboo around a true bamboo nut (except me of course). If you do, expect to get a quick slap to the hand and a lecture about “true” bamboo verses lucky bamboo. In short, lucky bamboo is a completely different plant. It grows on the bottom of the rainforest floor in Africa and it is typically a house plant used as a Feng Shui cure. I really like lucky bamboo so I’ve included it on my website. You can read all about lucky bamboo plants here.
This plant really doesn’t look much like real bamboo and is in fact a shrub that grows bright red berries. Heavenly bamboo does come from eastern Asia and is now considered an invasive species in many states. This plant is toxic to many animals (and potentially humans)-very much unlike bamboo which is generally a delightful treat.
I totally get why people get this plant mixed up with bamboo (reeds in general look similar if you ask me). Giant cane grows in damp soil and has a stalk much like real bamboo. It’s native to Asia and can grow up to 35 feet tall. Also, very much so like bamboo, the giant cane replicates via nodes on rhizomes.
Ok I’ll admit it. I was one of those kids that thought horsetail was bamboo. My mom corrected me many a time and drilled into my brain that horsetail was horsetail, not bamboo. Horsetail is native to North America, Europe and Asia. It grows well in swamp-like conditions (unlike bamboo) and looks very much so (to the undiscerning eye) like small bamboo plants. Horsetails are considered invasive in many areas as they spread by underground runners.
There are lots of other plants that might be mistaken for bamboo, but these are big ones. My thought is, if you like a bamboo like plant, there’s no reason you can’t grow it or cultivate it to your liking. Just be careful to properly identify the plant and make sure you are contributing to the spread of an invasive species!
photo credit: Lucky Bamboo Hearts For My Flickr Friends via photopin (license) photo credit: Nandina via photopin (license) photo credit: Arundo donax, Wave Hill Garden via photopin (license) photo credit: DSC_2512 via photopin (license)