NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — One of the world’s most invasive plants is spreading on Staten Island, and the City Parks Department needs your help tackling the problem that could soon affect your property.

Some say it looks like bamboo, but it most definitely is not bamboo. It’s Japanese knotweed, and the New York City Park’s Department says it’s “out of control.”

“It out competes with the natives, something you don’t want,” the department’s Joshua Nakash tells CBS2’s Erin Logan. “It also takes a lot of nutrients from the ground through its roots.”

Joshua says the Japanese knotweed is and has been a concern on Long Island that could literally ruin your property.

That’s why Staten Islander Judy Carter was happy to hear the Parks Department will be out this Saturday digging the plant up at Jones Woods Park.

They’re asking for volunteers just like they’ve done in the past, both in Staten Island and in the Bronx River section of the Bronx. The department tweeted a photo showing the plant nearly swallowing a person whole.


“I think it’s good they’re on top of it and won’t let it spread like wildfire,” Carter said. “They could tamper on my property.”

You can see how close Carter’s property is to Jones Woods. If she had it on her own property, Nakash says she would certainly know.

“It would shade out your ornamental plants or flowers, roses it would take over,” he said.

He says if you do in fact have to deal with this problem in your backyard, you want to dig it out and throw it away in bags. If not, it could re-root. In this case, in the woods, he says it’s best to pile it up on a tree stump and you can eventually use it as mulch.

For more detailed information on this Saturday’s cleanup location and times, click here.

  1. Digging this plant up TRIGGERS growth! Those roots can be up to 65 ft in all directions, 10 ft deep and easily broken off. A piece the size of a pea can start a new growth and if people aren’t digging up ALL the pieces, it will be back… with a vengeance!!! Digging may work for *some* small sites, but people HAVE to know that it’s not that simple.

    It also plays dead, so if these people expect to dig it once and be done, they’re going to be in for a surprise next year! It’s great that they are using teamwork, and are being encouraged to put the pieces in a plastic bag (it better be thick or double bagged!… in the UK it’s treated as hazardous waste!)

    And recommending people use it as MULCH is a bad idea! I get he was talking about drying out the top stuff, but the root/rhizome can be dried out and re-hydrated, so if people try to compost it and have some root material, it has now found a new place to grow.

    Eradication is not possible at this point in time (the plant is able to “play dead” for around 20 years!) and wrong information is making the problem WORSE!!!

    Read up on this plant from the countries where it is DESTROYING peoples homes:

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