Everyone is familiar with the bamboo’s association with panda bears, as they feed on it for survival. Bamboo is a perennial plant with exotic features, with over 1100 pieces, which America possesses 39%. It has hollow green stems and vascular bundles that section it throughout the stem. However, bamboos can be mistaken with quite a several other weeds. There’s many grass that looks like bamboo but it isn’t.
Distinguishing these bamboo-alikes is essential for safe living. These other weeds are mostly poisonous to animals and kids, unlike bamboo, which has all-around safety features. Durable stems for the construction of tables and other furniture. Here’s how my family and I have learned to identify bamboos from their look-alikes and kept them out of our garden for good.
Grass That Looks Like Bamboo But Isn’t
Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana)
The lucky bamboo has the most similar look to actual bamboos. They have red roots and narrow leaves and are usually sold in a potting filled with only water, which real bamboo can’t survive.
The stems of lucky bamboos are fleshier. It is also an indoor plant, while bamboo is an actual grass and can only survive in sunlight and outdoor conditions. Real bamboos also grow faster than lucky bamboos.
Lucky bamboo can be found virtually everywhere in the United States, especially in cities between Boston to Boca.
They grow quickly in gardens that have moisture evenly spread across their soil. Lucky bamboos are prone to develop their roots in gardens with partial or total sunshades too.
Advantages of Lucky Bamboo
- It can be used to decorate offices and homes, especially when it comes in a pretty vase.
- Aquariums use the lucky bamboo to provide enough oxygen for fishes. However, their leaves rot when immersed in water for a long time.
Disadvantages of Lucky Bamboo
- It is poisonous to cats. If consumed, it causes uncontrollable drooling, abdominal pain, dilated pupils, and an increased heart rate.
Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina Domestica)
Nandina Domestica is from Eastern Asia. It can also be called sacred bamboo. Heavenly bamboo has a brilliant foliage color. It is a shrub that can grow as tall as 6ft with berries that ripen and turn red in fall and winter.
Heavenly bamboo is an evergreen shrub, and it grows red berries in due season. It also grows white flowers in summer, which come in large pyramidical clusters.
Nandina Domestica can be found in northern Florida, upland hardwood regions and mixed upland forests, Georgia – floodplain forests, and Texas.
They have juicy nectar and attract pollinators like bees, which spread them across gardens.
Advantages of Heavenly Bamboo
- It serves as a decorative plant wherever it is kept.
- Heavenly bamboo is an ornamental plant and can treat bronchitis, cough, and other bacterial diseases.
Disadvantages of Heavenly Bamboo
- It is an invasive plant and can overpower other plants in your garden if proper control isn’t implemented.
- When ingested, heavenly bamboo can cause cyanide poison to your pets.
- You’ll most likely find dead birds around because they might have consumed its poisonous berries.
Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea Seifrizii)
Bamboo palms possess cane-like stems that look like bamboo culms and are clustered together. It has leaf colors that are blueish-green, with flowers that are inflorescent as per arrangement. It can grow as tall as 20 ft.
The bamboo palm leaves are 60cm long and are usually clustered together, unlike bamboo with sparse leaves. Real bamboos also need enough sunlight to survive, and bamboo palms can survive in shades and little sunlight.
Chamaedorea Seifrizii predominantly grows in Florida. Bamboo palm is spread when underground runners form clonal colonies.
Advantages of Bamboo Palm
- They can be used to decorate indoor spaces.
- It serves as an air purifier by removing harmful gases and indoor pollutants.
- It can be used for landscaping in your garden.
Disadvantages of Bamboo Palm
- They are prone to mites infestation in hot and dry seasons.
- Fruits are highly poisonous.
Giant Reed (Arundo Donax)
The Giant Reed has a striking resemblance to real bamboo. It can grow in damp soil, attaining a height of up to 35ft with a 1.5 diameter. It can reproduce using the nodes on its rhizomes.
The canes of the Giant reed are not as strong as that of the bamboo. Giant reeds grow in groups, usually near reed or water.
Arundo donax is grown mostly in California, where it was first planted to provide roofing materials.
Its seeds are spread by wind or water, so they are most likely to grow in your garden if the chances of there been an erosion case in your area is high. They also sprout from rhizomes that are spread via flowing water and contaminated soil.
Advantages of Giant Reed
- Arundo Donax produces oxygen and can be used to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
- It serves as a cover crop to prevent evaporation.
- It has the potentials to become a bio-fuel and energy producer.
- The stems of this grass serve as support for climbing plants and vines.
- It can be used to produce quality paper and rayon.
- Arundo Donax is also an ornamental plant.
Disadvantages of Giant Reed
- It is an invasive plant, and its spread cannot be contained. Being a competitive plant; it will make it impossible for your other plants to grow.
- Giant reeds are highly flammable and can cause your garden to burn to the ground if exposed to fire.
Japanese Knotweed (Reynoutria Japonica)
The Japanese Knotweed has hollow stems and raised nodes, which gives it the bamboo resemblance. Its stems can also grow as tall as 10ft to 13 ft, with broad oval leaves. It produces white flowers.
Japanese knotweed has leaves that are of a different shape from bamboo leaves. Bamboos retain their leaves all year long while Japanese knotweed loses its leaves in late autumn.
Japanese knotweed can be found in every part of the USA except Nevada, Florida, Texas, Arizona, and North Dakota. Fragments of rhizomes can be distributed around during the case of a flood or erosion. Sometimes its seeds are dispersed by wind and water to your garden.
Advantages of Japanese Knotweed
- Beekeepers use the nectar the Japanese knotweed possesses to attract and feed bees.
- Japanese knotweed can be used to treat skin issues and respiratory conditions.
Disadvantages of Japanese Knotweed
- It is an invasive plant. Controlling its growth is difficult.
- The competitive nature of this plant makes it difficult for other plants around it to grow.
The stems of the Horsetail are green and are segmented without foliage. It has leaves that are arranged in whorls.
Bamboo is woody and has its foliage present throughout the year, while horsetail has stems that are green and soft, which dies every winter and sprouts from the roots by spring. Horsetail thrives in swampy areas, unlike bamboos that require soil with average moisture content.
The Horsetail plant is grown mostly in Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, Arizona, Texas, and California. Horsetails have a root system that spreads pretty fast. They also spread through underground rhizomes and spores. During flood and erosion, they can find their way to your garden.
Advantages of Horsetail
- Horsetail can be applied to the skin to aid the treatment of burns and wounds.
- It can be used to stimulate hair growth.
- When consumed, it serves as a natural diuretic.
- It is also used to treat heavy menstrual periods.
Disadvantages of Horsetail
- Horsetail is poisonous to livestock and horses.
- It causes thiamine deficiency when taking by mouth for a long time.
- It is an invasive plant and will compete for space, sunlight, and water when in the same garden with other plants.
Parlor Palm (Chamaedorea Elegans)
Just as its name implies, Parlor palms are small palm trees that can thrive in indoor conditions. The trunk of a Parlor Palm is green. It also has punctured leaves that are crescent-shaped, and it has pinnate foliage.
Bamboos require sunlight and other outdoor conditions to survive, while parlor palm can survive with little sunlight. Bamboos can not be grown indoor.
You can find a large number of Parlor palm grown in the Southeastern United States. Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, Mississipi, and Florida. Parlor palm can be propagated by seeds, which is only possible when seed dispersal agents, especially birds, disperse this seed to your garden.
Advantages of Parlor Palm
- Parlor palms are used to beautify indoor spaces.
- They serve as air purifiers.
Disadvantages of Parlor Palm
- They are easy targets to pests.
- You will most likely encounter pathogen problems, which is detrimental to the health.
- It enforces monoculture, as their invasive nature makes growing other plants difficult.
Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia Seguine)
The Dumb Cane is a common house plant due to its low maintenance culture. It has oblong leaves that are about ten to twelve inches long. These leaves take up an alternative arrangement and have yellow patches and spots that somewhat beautifies them.
It is effortless to distinguish these two, as the dumb cane leaves are broader and more extended. These leaves cover most of this grass, and you can only see a little resemblance when they dry out and only have their stems present.
The Dumb cane is commonly grown in Florida. Dumb cane plants can only be propagated when the stem or root is cut and planted in the soil. It is rare to find it growing in your garden, except by chances of erosion.
Advantages of Dumb Cane
- It is used as a decorative plant in indoor spaces.
- Can be used to improve the air quality of indoor spaces, as it is an air purifying plant.
- It can be used for landscaping in your garden.
Disadvantages of Dumb Cane
- The sap it produces is poisonous and can cause swelling when it gets to the eyes or skin.
- When consumed by pets like dogs and cats, it can lead to vomiting, bowel irritation, and painful swallowing.
Benefits of Planting Bamboo on Your Property
Having bamboo planted on your property comes with many benefits that contribute to the development of the environment. Below are some of the benefits of planting bamboo on your property:
- Bamboo is a top contributor to cleaner and healthier air. A bamboo grove releases 35% more oxygen than a stand of a standard tree.
- Greenhouse gases are absorbed faster when bamboos are planted in an area.
- Bamboo gets rid of toxic metals in water and soil, serving as an organic purifier.
- It can be used to prevent erosion.
- Bamboos are versatile, and they can be used to make a coffee table, curtain rod, and other DIY projects.
- They bring a feeling of calmness as they create quiet sounds when hit by the wind.
- They attract other beautiful creations, especially birds that tend to build their nests in them.
- Some species like Phyllostachys edulis are edible and an immune booster.
Bamboos come in varieties, each of excellent use. Mistaken it for some other grass might be detrimental to the health, mostly when consumed. Identifying these bamboo look-alikes is critical in controlling them, especially the ones that have an invasive nature.
Cut off strange bamboos you find in your land and kill them with organic herbicide to stop its growth. As beautiful as they may seem, they are still weeds and can cause damages to your plants. Therefore, getting rid of them is essential for the growth and safety of your money crops.
Use this post as a guide to identify the grass that looks like bamboo but it isn’t.