The Threat of Japanese Knotweed
A few years ago I discovered an
outbreak of Japanese Knotweed right in the village in Staffordshire
where I live. Once I became aware of it I kept finding it in all sorts
of places, even on the continent in Europe when travelling on holiday.
This was the first time I had come into contact with the weed, or even
heard of it. After some research on the Internet and various
discussions with officers at the District Council and County Council, I
realised what a particularly dangerous weed this was. Not dangerous to
human beings but to the native flora of the countryside. It grows so
vigorously and densely that it can literally suffocate smaller species
in its path.
"You have to stand in amongst it to realise its awesome potential."
It is so invasive that it is
controlled under the 1981 Wildlife and
Countryside Act, which made it illegal for anyone to spread Japanese
Knotweed. It will easily propogate from pieces of stem, rhizome (root),
or crown (base
of stem) with fragments as small as 10m/m long!!
Luckily the seeds are normally sterile, but the roots can extend as far
as 7 metres radius from the parent plant including vertically downwards
and new shoots can then sprout up anywhere within that area. Once
established it can grow up to 2.5 to 3 metres tall and by as much as 10cms
I am particularly anxious to avoid the accidental spread of this
obnoxious weed, so I am seeking to publicise the potential dangers
as much as possible.
The weed was originally introduced into this country by the Victorians.
What a legacy they have left us. Some of the worst areas affected in the UK are
to be found in Cornwall and in Wales.
There is a vast amount of information on the Internet, a useful link
if you would like to find out more can be found by clicking HERE
HOW DO YOU GET RID OF IT?
With great difficulty. However regular systematic cutting back of top
growth will eventually kill off the root system. It must be a regime
that continues relentlessly over a very long period, if you relax it will start gaining
strength again and your previous efforts will be totally wasted. This method of attack can over a period of time kill the plant.
If you cut back top growth and then wait a few days until there are
very bright new red leaves you can reinforce your attack by applying
"ROUNDUP" (from your local Garden Centre) to the leaves and this will
then quickly get into the root system as this is a systemic system of
weed control. Roundup should be used with care especially if you have
plants nearby that you would like to keep.
MAKE SURE YOU CAREFULLY READ THE INSTRUCTIONS.
As the root system is so invasive DO NOT ATTEMPT to DIG IT UP, the roots
can reach up to 7 metres away and go as deep as over 3 metres. Disturbing
the roots will stimulate new growth. The smallest piece of plant
material can under suitable conditions quickly regrow into a new plant.
You can still burn garden refuse on a bonfire, providing you do not
create black smoke or inconvenience the neighbours. I suggest
that any material that is cut down should if possible be safely kept in
a dry place and then when dry burnt on a very hot bonfire, so as to
produce little smoke and to make sure it is all burnt. Please consider neighbours before lighting a
UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES put Knotweed into your rubbish bins, this is
potentially dangerous and could spread the weed on your local landfill
site very quickly. It is also illegal as you would be allowing the weed
material to 'escape' from your property!
If you cannot burn your Knotweed waste then special disposal arrangements should be available with your local council.
As the plant top growth naturally dies over the Winter be especially
vigilant the following Spring. If necessary start the control regime
again, until you have won.
I am still finding out new information on this issue.
So I will be posting additional details on a regular basis if I think that they will help to control this problem.
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