There are many names which the Japanese knotweed can be known as; Reynoutria japonica, Fallopia japonica and Polygonum cuspidatum are the scientific names for the Japanese knotweed. Reynoutria japonica is the oldest name given in 1777 by Houttuyn, a renowned Dutch botanist.
This name became lost over 10 decades with the weed named as Polygonum cuspidatum by Siebold and Zuchharini in 1845. Today, its main scientific name is Fallopia japonica.
The Japanese knotweed is internationally known in local names such as American bamboo, Mexican bamboo, fleece flower, donkey or sally rhubarb, pea shooters, monkey weed, elephant ears, Hancock’s curse, crimson beauty, Huzhang and wild rhubarb.
This weed species belong to the Polygonaceae knotweed family which include the rhubarb, sorrel and buckwheat. This large herbaceous weed species is native to China, Korea, Taiwan and Japan. It was first introduced to the USA and Europe in the 19th century.
The Japanese knotweed is quite versatile in its uses. It was originally intended to feed field animals, prevent soil erosion and be a decorative plant with its small white and creamy flowers. Its root extract was highly sought after for Chinese medicine.
Its young shoots can be eaten as vegetables and its stalk rind can be used in jams, soups and sauces. It can be made into a dessert dish with some creative culinary skills and condiments.
However, this weed plant is considered as one of the most invasive weed species on every continent; hence, efforts are made to stem it out through various eradication treatments. UK ha a law against the spread of this weed species in its 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act.
Australia and New Zealand have also encountered much difficulty in controlling the wide spread growth of this weed. It can damage almost any surface be it wall or ground. Foundations of buildings can be cracked and become unstable with the presence of the Japanese knotweed.
A small shoot of this weed can push its way out of any tiny crack to cause massive damages. Hence, pavements, drains, roads, buildings, flood defenses, historical buildings, archaeological sites and even cemetery can be damaged by the Japanese knotweed.
The rapid growth of this weed plant can overtake river banks to prevent access to the rivers. Native plants are crowded out by the Japanese knotweed and soon go into extinction. Land value plummets with the presence of the knotweed. Eradication of this weed plant is difficult, costly and not guaranteed.