Why is it so problematic?
In its native Japanese volcanic landscape, the climate and regular deposits of ash would keep knotweed plants small, aswell as native fungi and bacteria and predators like the psyllid bug called the Aphalara itadori keeps the Japanese Knotweed at bay but this plant survives thanks to energy stores in its deep root system,
But in Britain, without these impediments, it grows unabated.
And at its most prolific it can grow up to 20cm EVERY DAY. It can even grow through concrete and tarmac and its roots can go down up to 3m deep, it can cause many issues under ground to drains and pipework.
There are no natural predators either meaning the weed can grow unabated, swamping other plants and preventing them from getting any light.
And while it does not produce seeds it can grow from minuscule fragments of rhizomes – the underground network of stems and roots – meaning it spreads easily.
What has been the cost of the problem?
Knotweed costs the UK economy £166 million per year for treatment and in home devaluations.
Last year, homeowners Matthew and Suzie Jones were told it would be cheaper to knock down and rebuild their £300,000 London home rather than try and treat their knotweed problem – that saw the familiar red bamboo-like plant grow through their floor.
And earlier this year, a man who murdered his wife before killing himself cited the weed that had blighted their West Midlands home as the cause for his mental distress.
In a suicide note, lab technician Kenneth McRae, 52, wrote: “I believe I was not an evil man, until the balance of my mind was disturbed by the fact there is a patch of Japanese Knotweed which has been growing over our boundary fence on the Rowley Regis Golf Course.
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