Plants that bear a striking resemblance to bamboo exist in abundance, but they often go unnoticed until you have the knowledge to identify them. These extraordinary plants enhance the beauty of our natural surroundings, exuding a vibrant allure wherever they thrive. However, it is essential to understand that while some of these plants can be used to enhance your home, others should be kept at a distance. In this article, we will explore a wide range of bamboo-like plants and provide insights into their potential uses and effects.
Identifying Plants That Look Like Bamboo
You may already have one or more plants resembling bamboo in your home or garden because a florist may have misinformed you about their true identity. Let’s delve deeper into these plants and determine whether they are suitable for your indoor or outdoor spaces. We will also discuss whether they possess any harmful properties and if they can be incorporated into your home decor.
1. Lucky Bamboo
The first plant on our list closely resembles bamboo, with its botanical name being Dracaena sanderiana. Commonly known as lucky bamboo, this plant is renowned for its decorative qualities. Not only does it add aesthetic appeal to any space, but it also helps humidify the air, creating a conducive environment. The presence of lucky bamboo plants exudes positive energy, infusing high spirits and enthusiasm throughout the day.
Dracaena sanderiana features narrow leaves and segmented stems, giving it the appearance of bamboo. However, it is more closely related to the asparagus family rather than true bamboo. One of the remarkable characteristics of lucky bamboo is its ability to thrive in minimal light and water. This makes it an ideal choice for stress-free indoor cultivation. Additionally, lucky bamboo is commonly known as water bamboo, as it thrives in water. Thus, it serves as a wonderful addition to your indoor bamboo collection.
2. Bamboo Palm
Here is another plant that often gets mistaken for true bamboo. The bamboo palm, scientifically known as Rhapis Excelsa, is a small variety of fan palms often referred to as lady palms. It shares a striking resemblance to real bamboo in terms of appearance, boasting long, lance-shaped leaves, upright stems, and attractive narrow fronds. Apart from its decorative function, bamboo palms contribute to maintaining humidity levels and purifying the air by absorbing harmful chemicals and irritants.
These plants, also known as Chamaedorea palms, belong to a genus of 107 species native to tropical and subtropical regions of America. Unlike lucky bamboo, bamboo palms thrive in full shade and well-drained soil, with zero tolerance for excess watering. Additionally, their growth rate tends to be slow and steady.
3. Parlor Palm
Chamaedorea Elegant, commonly known as parlor palm, is a popular house plant that is often confused with bamboo. Native to the rainforests of Mexico and Guatemala, this small palm tree is widely cultivated indoors and in gardens. Parlor palms prefer moderate to high humidity and bright light, with a low tolerance for low light and humidity. These plants grow slowly and can take years to reach their maximum height, which is often between 13 to 16 feet.
Distinguished by compact fronds growing from a clustered stem in an upright position, parlor palms showcase dark green leaves, adding to their beauty and uniqueness. They are aptly named parlor palms because of their ability to brighten and elevate any interior space, making them an excellent choice for houseplant enthusiasts.
4. Giant Cane Grass
Despite its common name, giant cane grass, which goes by several aliases such as Elephant grass, Spanish cane, Wild cane, Carrizo, Arundo, and Giant reed, is not related to the bamboo family. Arundo Donax, the botanical name for this bamboo look-alike plant, is well-known for its energy production capabilities and is prevalent in the southern United States. It is commonly found along riverbeds and is highly invasive.
Although giant cane grass is rarely used for ornamental purposes due to its invasive nature, it is widely recognized for its benefits in the energy industry. This plant is utilized as biofuel. However, it is important to note that giant cane grass is highly flammable and modifies river hydrology, which can adversely affect wildlife habitats. With its gigantic shape and bamboo-like appearance, it is easy to mistake giant cane grass for true bamboo. Yet, upon closer inspection, its softer stems and distinctive features differentiate it from genuine bamboo.
5. Heavenly Bamboo
Nandina Domestica, commonly referred to as heavenly bamboo, is a species of flowering plant that, despite its name, does not resemble actual bamboo. However, its alluring appearance and suitability for gardens make it a popular choice among plant enthusiasts. This plant boasts bright and attractive foliage, with young leaves turning pink or red in spring before transitioning to green, while older leaves eventually transform into shades of red or purple before shedding.
It is worth mentioning that while heavenly bamboo is visually appealing and enhances the environment, it contains compounds that decompose into hydrogen cyanide. Although harmless to humans, it can be toxic to birds and grazing animals. Furthermore, Nandina holds significance in Chinese culture, symbolizing good luck.
6. Japanese Knotweed
Japanese knotweed, often referred to as Japanese bamboo, is a native Asian plant that is commonly utilized for ornamental purposes in England. It is a perennial shrub that can reach a height of approximately 9 feet upon maturation. Japanese knotweed features simple leaves arranged alternately, measuring around 6 inches in length. Its flowers appear in clusters and possess a whitish color. The plant’s stems resemble bamboo, forming a dense shape.
Beyond its ornamental value, Japanese knotweed has been used in herbal medicine to treat various conditions such as sore throat, inflammation, and cough. It carries numerous health benefits and serves as a valuable herb in traditional remedies.
Horsetail plants bear a striking resemblance to mini bamboo. These perennial plants feature hollow stems similar to bamboo, and they reproduce through spores rather than seeds. Although they do not bloom, horsetail plants possess long, non-photosynthetic stems with bristles on their surfaces.
Notably, horsetail is widely used as an herb to treat various illnesses, such as ulcers, tuberculosis, and kidney diseases. Additionally, it can act as a natural diuretic and is known for its positive effects on skin health.
Bamboo plants are a common sight in both domestic and wildlife environments. However, these majestic evergreens are often mistaken for other plants due to their distinctive appearance. Just as you wouldn’t appreciate someone being mistaken for a member of your family tree, these bamboo look-alike plants deserve to be properly recognized. Now that you have gained insight into these unique plants, you can make an informed decision about which ones to keep or remove from your surroundings. Whether you are seeking decorative plants, health benefits, or to avoid potential threats, the knowledge gained from this article will serve as a valuable resource. Remember to appreciate the beauty and diversity of these plants that resemble bamboo and their unique contributions to our natural surroundings. For more information on plants, visit Ames Farm Center.