Shades of Wyndham’s Day of the Triffids, but a nearly bestial plant may be residing in your herbaceous border. Unlike the aforementioned Triffids this bit of vegetation doesn’t send you blind – only ‘self-abuse’, as every parochial school alumnus knows, can do that – it nevertheless can devastate your domestic well-being, not to mention wreaking havoc all over the place.
It is known as Japanese Knotweed and could almost be seen as a bit of Nippon revenge by those there still cranky about how World War Two turned out. Maybe you know the plant, hopefully you don’t in terms of actually having planted the evil thing. It turns out that Vancouver Island is a hotbed of profligate growth by a botanical species that does not say ‘no’ to any sort of insult you throw in its direction. Root the thing out and it just comes back in greater mass.
On the Lower Mainland of BC and on the Island you find Canada’s Knotweed Central, and thus far the only provinces that seem to have escaped its Triffid-wrath seem to be Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Here on the Island you can see stretches of it along the Inland Island Highway, and elsewhere it has encroached on the shoreline, and wherever else it can take root, and that is something it does easily. Uproot the stuff and it comes back with a kamikaze vengeance. On the Mainland it has encroached on highway bridges, into the connections onto the Lion’s Gate and within Stanley Park. They have even found instances along Highway One where it has traveled underground and under blacktop to both sides of the highway. Yikes!
None of the effects here are as devastating as they have been in the UK where profligate knotweed growth has destroyed real estate values in some areas, and has literally ripped apart homes. Knotweed in your area? Good luck selling your home.
Ironically my grandmother had a clump of knotweed, which she saw as mock-bamboo (it is very bamboo-like in appearance) and she liked the plant. Baht was in the days before the stuff went mad and it was still sold in gardening centres as an ornamental accent plant because it grow so quickly and easily. And therein, of course, lies the problem with the stuff.
How to get rid of it if you have it? Excavating doesn’t work worth a damn; it only encourages more growth. What works? Well, you’ll have to swallow your ‘green’ instincts and haul out the heavy-duty herbicides like Roundup. Judiciously applied, it works. And if you object to such an unenvironmental approach and let the stuff propagate and sneak into your neighbors’ yard I guess you’ll have to live with the outcome. Likely not a ‘pretty’ outcome.
If Satan were a plant, knotweed would pretty much qualify.