The ferocity at which Japanese knotweed makes inroads into gardens is nothing short of spectacular, with its unwelcome presence taking a stranglehold on many an unwitting victim’s garden.
While in its native Japan the potentially devastating proliferation of knotweed is largely controlled by a tag team of fungus and insects, here in the UK the resistance forces of Mother Nature doesn’t seem as effective in combatting its advances. So, with no known natural enemies to nip its forays in the bud, Japanese knotweed is left to run riot.
Japanese knotweed has a nasty (and recurring) habit of striking right at the heart of both domestic and commercial settings. Knotweed is certainly no respecter of locations, with the trail of damage it leaves in its wake often extensive. In statistical terms, it is measured that Japanese knotweed occupies at least one site in every 10 square kilometres of England and Wales on average, as well as being present across Scotland and Ireland.
So, we now know about the presence of Japanese knotweed, but we still haven't properly answered the question of what is Japanese knotweed? Let us explain a little more.
To refer to it with its Latin name, (which is only really ever done with plants these days!) Fallopia Japonica is a large, herbaceous perennial plant that is part of the knotweed and buckwheat family, Polygonaceae. As hinted above, it is - or rather, was - more commonly identifiable as being native to East Asia. You may have heard it referred to by some of its slang names such as fleece-flower, Himalayan fleece vine, monkey-weed, elephant ears, donkey rhubarb, sally rhubarb, Japanese bamboo or even Mexican bamboo.
Despite the monikers, it’s not linked to any of those animals, nor to rhubarb or bamboo. Nicknames aside, Japanese knotweed is prevalent in – as the name implies - Japan, and in China and Korea. The plant also racks up the air miles, now prevalent across areas of North America and Europe. Even Australia hasn’t escaped the spread of Japanese knotweed, although there it’s now classed as illegal to have any of the plant growing on your property.