With a scientific name of Fallopia japonica, Japanese knotweed is a herbaceous plant that is local to eastern Asia, specifically in Japan, China, and Korea. It has hollow stems with distinct nodes, making it appear like a bamboo, even if the two plants are not closely associated.
Although the most often used scientific name of the plant nowadays is Fallopia japonica, it is also called in other scientific terms: Polygonum cuspidatum and Reynoutria japonica. The latter is its oldest name, which was assigned in 1777 by a Dutch botanist. In addition, its other English names include donkey rhubarb, elephant ears, fleeceflower, Hancock’s curse, Himalayan fleece vine, and pea shooters.
There are several uses for Japanese knotweed. Beekeepers value the plant as it is a significant supplier of nectar for honeybees at some stage in the year when there is little blossoming. It creates monofloral honey, which is likewise called as bamboo honey. Also, the plant’s new stems are edible, which taste similar to mild rhubarb. It is a good provider of vitamin C, vitamin A, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc.
Another known use of the plant is that it is an origin of resveratol, the same compound seen in the skin of grapes and red wine. The substance helps lessen bad cholesterol, thus reducing the possibility of heart attacks. Another useful compound taken from this plant is emodin, which helps regulate bowel motility. Likewise, the plant is in particular useful owing to its capacity to survive at whatever time of the year and in severe situation.
However, as much as Japanese knotweed has a lot of uses, it is deemed as an invasive plant especially in North America and in Europe. In the 19th century, the plant was brought to Europe and the United States, and it was used to feed animals, as an ornamental plant, and to prevent soil erosion. The plant has been found to be a liability, nevertheless.
It is regarded as one of the world’s one hundred most horrible invasive species. It is regarded as a serious threat to land developers, builders, and gardeners. Moreover, the problems it may cause consist of damage to pavements, roads, drains, walls, and even buildings. It may likewise inhabit river banks, thus preventing entry to rivers. Another Japanese knotweed problem is that it spreads easily and quickly. It can expand from small parts of root cuttings, and it can grow to three to four inches a day. As a result of the damage that this kinds of plant can cause, the UK for instance has come up with the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. The Act prohibits its spread in the wild.
The Japanese knotweed, certainly, has two sides. It is an advantage and a problem at the same time. And, it cannot be immediately disregarded as a good or a bad weed at the same time.