Japanese knotweed, a huge perennial plant of the buckwheat family Polygonaceae is native to China, Japan and Korea. The herbaceous plant comprises of big heart-shaped leaves exhibited in a criss-cross way with hollow stems. The plant grows in dense clusters and bears cream coloured flowers which attract various birds and bees alike. It has varying characteristics and appearances throughout the year; they can be first seen growing in March just as spring begins to fade, then they show red or purple shoots which are characteristic to the plant (in summer), and finally as winter approaches, the leaves turn brown and retract into its rhizome. It was first introduced in Europe back in the 19th century as a decorative plant used to adorn houses and provide feed for livestock.
In those days, it was a fashion to collect and nurture exotic plants in the household or gardens. Such was the case with this unique plant. Japanese knotweed was one such plant that was a part of every elite household. But after it was discarded, it continued to thrive, in the drains or waterways wherever it was thrown. Years of unprecedented growth has led to overgrowth of the peculiar plant, which has come to light only in the recent years. Its uncontrolled and unabated growth has resulted in tremendous proliferation. It can grow through concrete and bricks which makes it one of the most dreaded species in England. It grows mostly in unkempt gardens, dishevelled drains or old buildings.
As it grows at an alarming rate of up to 20cm each day, it is terrifying for most people as they have to constantly keep a check so that it does not cause damage to their houses. There are several ways to regulate the growth of the plant from further blooming and harming buildings. Digging the plant out and burying it is one option, but one has to be extremely cautious to not leave any speck of the plant as it only requires 0.8g of the plant to re-grow into a new one. Moreover, it should be buried only after digging a pit of more than 5 metres deep and only in licensed sites under the (Environmental Protection Act, 1990). Another way of getting rid of the troublesome plant is to feed it to a bug called Aphalara itadori which feasts distinctively on the Japanese knotweed. One more way is of destroying the weed is by killing it with chemicals containing glyphosate. Using glyphosate-based chemicals proves to be advantageous as well as the most economical one.
These are some of the most widely used methods of removal of Japanese knotweed and safeguarding homes from its threat. The last resort, however, remains using professional treatments, if all the other techniques prove futile. Professional treatments cost huge amounts and very few people opt for it. It costs as much as £150 million per year for a house to be freed from the deplorable species. It causes huge damage if not managed at the right time. So, it should be controlled while one still can, otherwise it may ruin beautiful buildings, run through cracks in houses and destroy one’s favourite garden in just a short span of time.