- It has wide, light-green, heart-shaped leaves with a truncated base, 7–14 cm long and 5–12 cm broad, with an entire margin.
- While hollow, reddish stems may reach a maximum height of 3–4 m each growing season without any problem, it is typical to see much smaller plants in places where they sprout through cracks in the pavement or are repeatedly cut down.
- You see, cutting down makes it only STRONGER.
- Flowers which are small, cream or white, are produced in erect racemes (so arranged singly along an elongated unbranched axis, as in the lily of the valley) 6–15 cm long in late summer and early autumn.
So, do you recognize it? If your answer is still no, you are lucky. However it is very possible that you have seen that murderous beauty and you haven’t known that you actually met one of these superplants which can survive no matter what..
Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica, syn. Polygonum cuspidatum, Reynoutria japonica) is a large, herbaceous perennial plant, native to eastern Asia – Japan, China and Korea.The species has been so very successful elsewhere that it has been classified as invasive in several countries. In fact it is listed by the World Conservation Union as one of the world’s 100 worst invasive species. Why?
|Flowers of Japanese knotweed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
How has it found its way to our backyards? Japanese Knotweed was introduced as an ornamental plant by the freaking Victorians in 1825. Allegedly it was shipped from Japan. It looked cute, its flowers smelled cute, it must have been cute. right? The great garden-writer William Robinson recommended it warmly in The Wild Garden of 1870 for its “large and noble tufts of lively green, which increase in beauty from year to year”. Yeah, I’ve always known that the aliens would conquer our planet in one week if only they presented themselves in a form of sweet, fluffy bunnies.Already by the 1880s, gardeners had become alarmed by the plant’s invasive tendencies. As you might guess it was already too late.
|Several invasive species of knotweed form large thickets like this (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Funnily enough this monster has a second, also very interesting face. Scientists are reporting that Japanese knotweed could hold the answer to the oil crisis and provide a sustainable, clean source of energy. The plant’s ability to generate massive amounts of energy is simply uncanny – by pyrolysing knotweed rhizomes in low temperature ovens, the gas and hydrocarbon fuels generated are only slightly lower in yield than some brown coals.
That horrible plant might also restore your health. Yes, you read it right. The leaves and shoots are edible and the roots contain resveratrol which has been identified as a potent flavonoid. How can it be helpful?
Extracts from Japanese knotweed rhizomes have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Resveratrol decreases the viscosity of the blood and acts as anticoagulant to thin blood, effective in treating cardiovascular disease by reducing thrombosis and embolisms that can block arteries and lead to myocardial and cerebral infarctions (Wang et. al, 2002). Resveratrol has been found to reduce tumor volume, tumor weight, and lung metastasis; it inhibits cancer cells without harming the liver. Studies indicate the most beneficial use to be in pancreatic, breast, and ovarian cancers.
Alternatively you can also eat this ugly invader. Yes, I am dead serious now, that monster is edible. Related to rhubarb, it’s very sour and may act as a laxative the way rhubarb does, so use it sparingly at first. Most importantly, be sure that any harvesting of Japanese knotweed does not result in its spread. Never add knotweed to your compost or send it to municipal compost center – in many countries it is against the law and you might be sued. So, what exactly can be done with it? I found you one yummy recipe.
DANDY KNOTWEED MUFFINS
The best time to gather young knotweed shoots, up to about 8 inches, is in early spring (the larger ones are tough and stringy). Some people peel the outer skin off the shoots, but that can be tedious, and if you’re not careful, you may peel too much off.
Makes 16 large muffins
Japanese knotweed stalks to measure 2 cups, minced
1.5 cups flour
0.5 cup dandelion flower petals, stripped from their base (do not include any green parts)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
0.5 cup softened butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sour cream or yogurt
green food colouring or fresh spinach juice (if you like them organic)
Snip off the pointy tops of the knotweed stalks and mince.
Combine flour, dandelions, baking powder, and baking soda in a small bowl.Cream 0.5 cup butter with 1 cup brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time and then add the vanilla. To this mix, alternately fold in the sour cream, dry ingredients and colouring until blended. Fold in the knotweed pieces. Divide the batter into greased muffin forms.
Bake at 350˚F for 15 to 20 minutes, until the muffins test done in the center proves they are ready.
You can decorate it with some cream at the top.