Japanese Knotweed Doesn't Like To Play Nice With Others, Must Be Eradicated

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There has been a warning issued about a problematic pest of the plant variety.

The Japanese knotweed is considered the most invasive species in New York, destroying any ecosystem it encounters, CBS 2’s Elise Finch reported Monday.

With heart-shaped leaves and roots that grow to resemble bamboo, the knotweed is common on Staten Island.

“It’s taken over everything. You have it over there. You have it all throughout Snug Harbor. It’s all throughout the neighborhood,” resident Jayne Lamarche said.

“It’s frightening as well as stressful,” Ryan Lamarche added.

The hearty plant grows near water, in fields and almost anywhere else. During late summer a pretty white flower blooms. But don’t let it fool you; if left alone this weed will kill every plant in its path.

“Japanese knotweed can take nutrients out of the soil that other plants can use. It can take water out of the soil that plants need,” said Greg Lord of Snug Harbor Botanical Garden.

“They get so tall and so wide that they’re continuously spreading. If you do have smaller plants there they will choke them out, so your plants will die and these will just take over,” added Vinny Gerardi of Gerardi’s Farmer’s Market & Nursery.

If these weeds kill native plants, wildlife will be driven away and the natural ecosystem of an area will be altered, experts say. For that reason, the New York State Invasive Species Clearinghouse named it one of the top eight invasive plants.

Even though some nurseries still sell it, people are being urged not to buy it and remove it if it’s already in their yard.

Experts say the only way to get rid of Japanese knotweeds is to cut them down and apply an herbicide or pull them up from the root. But either way, you’ll likely have to do that repeatedly before they’re gone for good, Finch reported.

“It’s about making a community in your garden and knotweed is not a good neighbor. It doesn’t know how to get along with other plants,” community gardener Justin Stone-Diaz said.

If you find Japanese knotweed in your yard, remove it and put it in a bag before you dispose of it. That should keep pieces of it from re-sprouting, Finch reported.

Experts say don’t use a lawn mower or weed trimmer to remove Japanese knotweed. Those methods will only spread tiny pieces that will re-grow the plant, not kill it.

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