Watch out! Behind you! Giant Knotweed is a crazy invader that can grow through concrete.

Is there an alien invader in your backyard?

The Central Kootenay Invasive Plant Committee (CKIPC) is focusing efforts this summer on educating residents.

An extremely aggressive invasive plant species that has the ability to damage property, impact biodiversity, and affect water quality, may be growing in your backyard. The Central Kootenay Invasive Plant Committee (CKIPC) is focusing efforts this summer on educating residents about invasive knotweeds and their impacts.

“Invasive knotweeds can grow one metre per month and have the ability to push through concrete, brick and asphalt,” said Crystal Klym, Executive Director of CKIPC. “These knotweeds form such a dense thicket that nothing will grow underneath them, which impacts biodiversity, water quality and fisheries habitat along stream edges. Once established, these plants are extremely difficult to get rid of.”

Knotweed, also called “false bamboo”, grows up to five metres tall and its roots can spread up to 20 m away. The three species in the West Kootenay include Japanese, Giant and Bohemian knotweed. The tall, bamboo like stems and thick patches of this plant makes it relatively easy to identify.

Invasive knotweeds are considered to be one of the world’s worst invasive species, are legislated as “controlled waste” in the United Kingdom, and are designated as “noxious” under the B.C. Weed Control Act. In a recent planning session in Nelson, invasive knotweeds were identified as one of the highest priority species for control.

“Knotweed is found on many properties in the Kootenays since it is often planted as a garden ornamental” said Klym. “It grows so quickly that it easily forms a hedge but then it continues to spread and may cause problems with building foundations, road sight lines, and native ecosystems.”

CKIPC successfully applied for funding from the Columbia Basin Trust Community Initiatives Program for the “Not-A-Weed” project in Nelson. CKIPC representatives will conduct an inventory of knotweed in the City of Nelson, contact residents who have knotweed on their property, and will provide information on its control and safe disposal.

For more information on this project, contact the Central Kootenay Invasive Plant Committee at 250-352-1160 or see www.ckipc.ca.