Knotweed: a menace in disguise

Unless you’d heard about it beforehand, you would never know how dangerous Japanese Knotweed is just by looking at it.

Unless you’d heard about it beforehand, you would never know how dangerous Japanese Knotweed is just by looking at it. It’s not spiky, it’s not menacing, and it’s not poisonous. It resembles bamboo but for its broad, heart-shaped leaves. It seems completely innocent; just another plant minding its own business, enjoying sunlight and all that good stuff. Nothing to see here, move along.

Much like Clark Kent, looks can be deceiving. Unlike Clark Kent, Japanese Knotweed is not a blessing in disguise — it’s an ecological terror, laying waste to whatever stands in its way. The plant can grow through concrete roadways and brick walls. It can take over fertile areas to the point of creating a monoculture — an area completely made up only if its own species. It’s even been known to divert rivers. Not only that, it’s also extremely difficult to get rid of. Ripping it out won’t work. Digging it out won’t work. The plant has roots that can reach 20 meters horizontally and 3 meters deep. Even burning the plant doesn’t solve things; any tiny bit of knotweed that remains can and will sprout into a new shoot. These reasons are why it’s ranked as #37 of the most invasive species worldwide.

Japanese Knotweed hasn’t stayed in Japan. Brought to England in 1850 and originally discovered by an explorer by the name of Philipp von Siebold, it quickly became popular for its pleasing looks and easy-to-grow nature. Now, it’s a national epidemic in Britain; one that can destroy property values, cost thousands of dollars in legal fees, and even cause lenders to deny mortgages. Without a single 15,000 hectare patch of land in all of Britain without the plant, such extreme reactions are understandable.

Japanese Knotweed has spread across Canada, even to isolated places like Nakusp. This Superman plant does have a Kryptonite, but it is incredibly tedious to administer. The plant must be dosed with a herbicide, which is either injected into or sprayed onto every individual stalk. If any stalks are missed, the plant can recover. In a best-case scenario, the infestation will be gone within the season; more than likely though, it will take longer than that to completely eradicate.

Researchers have been delving into the knotweed problem with three herbicide-free alternatives having shown success; one using saltwater sprayed over the plants, one using a psyllid that feedsexclusively on the plant, and another using a leaf spot fungus.

While the trials have been promising, there remains much testing to be done — after all, no one wants to introduce a new invasive species in an attempt to combat an old one. There are other available options for containing the weed’s spread, but for the moment, nothing less than chemical warfare can truly kill Japan’s Godzilla of weeds.

The village council is busy drafting up a plan to deal with the plant on public property, as well as an awareness campaign for private property owners. Until then, keep an eye out for the plant, and make note of its location if you do spot one. With knowledge, vigilance, and persistence, we should be able to prevent Japanese Knotweed from gaining any more of a roothold in our neck of the woods than it has already. If it’s a horticultural Superman, consider us Lex Luthor.

 

 

Just Posted

Two missing in Pend d’Oreille crash

A 15-year-old male and 18-year-old female both from Fruitvale are missing and presumed deceased

Judge: Nelson not liable for snowbank injury

A woman sued the city after injuring herself in 2015

Kalesnikoff announces $35 million South Slocan facility

Mass timber manufacturing facility will create 50 full-time, technology-centered jobs.

Co-op aims to help small BC cannabis producers go legit

“There is an injustice happening, these people are not going to be invited to participate.”

Nakusp, New Denver schools get $1.2 million boost

Renovations, new busses on shopping list

VIDEO: RCMP ask kids to help name soon-to-be police dogs

13 German shepherd puppies will be born this year

Horvat scores 16 seconds into OT as Canucks beat Blackhawks 3-2

Pettersson sets rookie scoring record for Vancouver

No injuries, pollution in Vancouver Harbour ship collision: Transport Canada

Transportation Safety Board says it has deployed a team of investigators look into the incident

Budget 2019: Five things to watch for in the Liberals’ final fiscal blueprint

Finance Minister Bill Morneau will release the Trudeau government’s final budget on Tuesday

New concussion guidelines launched for Canada’s Olympians, Paralympians

The guidelines will be in effect at this summer’s Pan American, Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru

Alphonso Davies doubtful for Canada game against French Guiana in Vancouver

Canada will be without injured captain Scott Arfield and veteran Will Johnson

Watchdog called after man who yelled racial slurs at B.C. vigil hurt during arrest

BC RCMP say man was ‘acting suspiciously’ at prayer vigil for victims of New Zealand mosque shootings

NDP’s Jagmeet Singh steps into the House of Commons, making history

Burnaby South MP becomes first visible minority to lead a federal party in the House of Commons

Most Read