Bamboo Impostors

by philinshelton on March 9, 2009

in Bamboo Basics,Botanical

Dracaena sanderiana AKA Lucky Bamboo is probably the plant most frequently mistaken for bamboo.  In Western Washington, people frequently mistake Nandina domestica (Heavenly Bamboo) and Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese Knotweed) for bamboo as well. Usually plants are mistaken because the stems have nodes like bamboo, the foliage has a bamboo look, or "bamboo" is part of the common name.

Bamboo Impostors Revealed

If you are uncertain about a plant's "bambooishness" here are five things to look for:
  1. Must have very hard, wood-like stems
  2. Must have nodes that are solid, internodes almost always hollow
  3. Must NOT have bark
  4. Rarely flowers, and NEVER has flower petals; temperate bamboo flowers look like lawn and other ornamental grasses when they "go to seed"
  5. Never has soft fruit, i.e. berries; bamboo fruits are grains, like wheat and rice


Here's a link to a great list of bamboo impostors from all around, courtesy of foxd, a regular contributor to the forum.  Or check out the list of links below to learn more about the true identity of these plants. Arundo donax -  Giant Reed Chasmanthium latifolium -   Sea Oats, Bamboo Grass, Uniola latifolia Dracaena sanderiana-  Lucky Bamboo Equisetum hyemele - Horsetail Rush Nandina domestica - Heavenly Bamboo Polygonum cuspidatum - Japanese Knotweed Chamaedorea seifrizii -  Bamboo Palm, Reed Palm Asparagus falcatus - Bamboo Fern, Lace Fern Phragmites australis - Common Reed Pogonatherum paniceum - Baby Bamboo, German Bamboo Chamaedorea microspadix - Bamboo Palm, Hardy Bamboo Palm Muhlenbergia dumosa - Bamboo Muhly

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