Officials warn about Japanese Knotweed

TAYLOR COUNTY—With all of the rain that the area has seen lately, residents are seeing plants blooming every where, but officials warn that some plants can cause damage. 

WVU Service Extension Agent John Murray recently ran an article online about Japanese knotweed warning that, “Japanese Knotweed is a real issue in a number of areas in Taylor County. The stem looks similar to bamboo and many people think that’s what it is. This invasive plant can be a very big problem.”

Japanese Knotweed, Polygonum cuspidatum: Polygonaceae is an invasive species that was originally introduced to North America from Asia in the late 1800s as an ornamental. 

It is a shrub like herbaceous perennial that can grow as tall as 10 feet. The stem of the plant is hollow and is sometimes confused with a bamboo stem. 

It is a large aggressive plant that grows quickly and densely. When in bloom, it has small white strings of flowers and bamboo like hollow stalks give it a misleading attractiveness.

To get rid of the pesky plant, it is recommended that the plant should be cut down by the end of June.  Between August and mid-September spray the plant with an appropriate glyphosate-based herbicide. Any surviving plants can be treated in early July in following years.

While the plant can be invasive and cause issues with drainage of waterways, damage to structures, roads and break sewer lines, it is also, surprisingly, edible.

Forages take advantage of eating, raw or cooked, young shoots, growing tips of larger plants and unfurled leave on the stalks and branches. It is a major source of vitamin A and vitamin C. 

It also provides potassium, phosphorus, zinc and manganese. It has also been found to be a source of resveratrol, the same substance in the skin of grapes and in red wine that reduces bad cholesterol and lowers the risk of heart attacks. 

There are even several recipes to be found using Japanese Knotweed such as Wild Knotweed Jelly, Japanese Knotweed Bread and Knotweed Pesto to name just a few.

If you would like to know more about this plant, please look into the article “Japanese Knotweed: A super pest or a super food?” The article is very well written by Rakesh Chandran and is available on the WVU Extension website.


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