The bamboo tree (Chamaedorea seifrizii) is a member of the palm family and is also known as the bamboo palm and the reed palm. The tree gets its general name from its resemblance to the bamboo plant, which is actually a grass. The tree also spreads by sending out suckers, the same way as the bamboo grass does. The two plants with almost the same name are in many ways similar, and yet different enough to belong to different families--a palm tree with palm and bamboo features.
The tree has multiple trunks and grows from 4 to 12 feet tall and 3 to 5 feet wide. The stems have nodes like the bamboo plant and can be grown together to from a shrub. Each stem produces 10 to 15 palm tree fronds with lance-shaped, evergreen leaves from 4 to 8 inches long.
The bamboo tree produces white flowers growing from the place where the leaves join the stems. The flowers are replaced by small orange-red berries the size of a pea that turn black as they mature.
Unlike the bamboo plant, which is native to Asia, the bamboo tree is native to Mexico and Central America. The tree prefers shade, but can take very light sun. Soil should be moist to dry, not wet. The tree is hardy in the hottest areas in the country, USDA zones 10 to 12.
The tree is used as a house plant in most areas. Bamboo tree is used as a screen, hedge, ground cover, around water features or as a specimen plant outdoors in its hardiness zones.
The tree is bothered by spider mites, mealy bugs and scale insects. Gliocladium blight and Phytopthora bud rot are two fungal diseases that the tree is susceptible to. The fruit is toxic and should never be consumed. The tree needs to be planted where it gets protection from the wind. It is not very salt-resistant and should not be planted where the tree can come in contact with salty sprays.