Godzilla Weed

Fallopia japonica[i]

Wildflowers:Invasives

dsc_0722

 

All you gardeners out there, if you have come across this plant, you hate it. It grows wherever the fuck it wants to grow, and you can’t kill it. Well, you CAN kill it, but doing so extremely time consuming and wicked expensive. Basically, if you have this plant and you want to grow something else, you are fucked. You can’t even pave over it. It will just grow though the freaking concrete![ii]

The stuff is actually called Japanese Knotweed, and it has a crapload of other nicknames.[iii] I could list them all, but I am too damned lazy and really don’t care. Besides, I like the name Godzilla Weed the best. Because Godzilla. ROAR!!! Not only does it have numerous common names, it also happens to have three scientific names:  Fallopia japonica, Polygonum cuspidate and Reynoutria japonica.[iv] Why? I have absolutely no idea; and it sort of defeats the purpose of having a scientific name.

It is native to East Asia[v], but has spread to nearly every other corner of the world[vi], and all these corners outside East Asia don’t want it either[vii]. In fact, it is illegal in Australia to even have this crap growing on your property[viii], so if you are shopping for homes in Australia, remember this, because you could have some very expensive home improvements in your near future. It was brought to North America and elsewhere in the 19th Century; as an ornamental, and to prevent erosion.[ix] However, like other intentionally introduced species brought here (or anywhere else for that matter) for whatever reason – this was clearly short sighted. The biggest effect it has on the environment is crowding out native species, due to its nigh invulnerability and habit of forming incredibly dense thickets, blocking out the sunlight for all other vegetation.[x] And it grows fast, as much as four inches per day![xi]

As I just mentioned, this plant grows in dense thickets, often in open areas and streambanks,[xii]  and usually grows 4 to 8 feet tall.[xiii] The plant’s stem looks like bamboo, but is not closely related.[xiv] It also has heart shaped leaves, and clusters of small whitish flowers, which bloom in late summer.[xv] Interesting factoid, all Godzilla Weeds outside its native range are female, and clones.[xvi]

Now, if you have this stuff and want to get rid of it, good luck. You think mowing it will work. Ha! Godzilla weed will just laugh at you. How about uprooting it? Have fun with that. You have to get all the roots. All of them. Every single one. You see, all over the roots there is this kind of modified stem called a “rhizome” from which the plant can grow again.[xvii] If you miss any of the rhizomes, they will grow back yet again, and they are often  quite small, and can easily break off from the root system.[xviii] And those roots? Yeah, they can grow to be 65 feet long.[xix] Even better, they can grow 10 feet deep into the ground.[xx] So yeah, good luck digging those things out. Perhaps you want to put a building on top of it? Guess again, it will just damage the foundation, and keep growing anyway![xxi]

You can also try weed killers. But even then, that is not very effective, as most herbicides are not potent enough to kill the entire root system.[xxii] The most effective method is to use glycophosphate when it flowers, and even that is not 100% effective. Repeated doses year after year are necessary.[xxiii] Another method some try is to cover the entire patch with tarps and old carpets. This has had some success, but also takes years, and constant weeding as the plant repeatedly sends up runners between the tarps and carpets.[xxiv] Oh yeah, and when disposing of uprooted Godzilla weed, be sure you bag it and dispose of it someplace that it can’t take root, because it can sprout from leaves, stems or roots, too.[xxv]

However, Godzilla weed does not like forested areas. Apparently, it requires a certain amount of sunlight.[xxvi] In fact, a conservation organization – Mass Audubon – has taken advantage of this and is currently running an experiment in which they are planting trees all over a patch of it in Boston. They have volunteers knock down the stalks and let the trees grow until they block out the sunlight needed for the weed to grow. The experiment is still ongoing, and there won’t be any results for a few years.[xxvii]

Also, in British Columbia, they claim they have had some success by flooding an entire patch of the stuff with seawater.[xxviii] Of course that is basically salting the earth, and God knows what else that will kill.

But there is some good news. The stuff is apparently edible.[xxix] That’s right, you can eat the young stalks; and they apparently taste like rhubarb.[xxx] This is good to know because in case Trump gets elected (God forbid!) and you have this stuff growing in your back yard, as you will have a virtually inexhaustible food supply that will help you get through the Great Famine of 2018. The greatest famine! A beautiful famine. Laugh now, while you can. You won’t during the famine…  So maybe killing that noxious weed in the back yard isn’t such a great idea, unless of course Hilary wins. So vote blue!

NOTE: most sources refer to it as Japanese Knotweed instead of Godzilla Weed. I think Godzilla Weed is a much better name.  Apparently, there is a kind of marijuana called Godzilla Weed as well, which really doesn’t surprise me.[xxxi] Probably why most of the literature out there insists on referring to the plant I just wrote about as “Japanese Knotweed” instead. Fuck that.

[i] Author Unknown “Fallopia Japonica” Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallopia_japonica 02SEP2016

[ii] Green Deane “Japanese Knotweed: Dreadable Edible” Eat the Weeds, and Other Things, too http://www.eattheweeds.com/japanese-knotweed-dreadable-edible/ 02SEP2016

[iii] Author Unknown “Fallopia Japonica” Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallopia_japonica 02SEP2016

[iv] Green Deane “Japanese Knotweed: Dreadable Edible” Eat the Weeds, and Other Things, too http://www.eattheweeds.com/japanese-knotweed-dreadable-edible/ 03SEP2016

[v] Author Unknown “Fallopia Japonica” Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallopia_japonica 02SEP2016

[vi] Author Unknown “Fallopia Japonica” Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallopia_japonica 02SEP2016

[vii] Author Unknown “Fallopia Japonica” Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallopia_japonica 02SEP2016

[viii] Author Unknown “Fallopia Japonica” Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallopia_japonica 02SEP2016

[ix] Author Unknown “Japanese Knotweed” Washington Department of Ecology http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wq/plants/weeds/aqua015.html 03SEP2016

[x] Author Unknown “New York Invasive Species Information” Cornell University http://www.nyis.info/index.php?action=invasive_detail&id=43 2016

[xi] Derbyshire, David “The dreaded alien eating your garden and home… but don’t dare try to kill the Japanese knotweed” Dailymail.com http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2358599/Alien-eating-garden-home–And-dont-dare-try-kill-dreaded-Japanese-knotweed.html posted 09JUL2013

[xii] Author Unknown “Japanese Knotweed” Washington Department of Ecology http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wq/plants/weeds/aqua015.html 03SEP2016

[xiii] Author Unknown “Japanese Knotweed” Washington Department of Ecology http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wq/plants/weeds/aqua015.html 03SEP2016

[xiv] Author Unknown “Fallopia Japonica” Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallopia_japonica 03SEP2016

[xv] http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wq/plants/weeds/aqua015.html 03SEP2016

[xv] Author Unknown “Fallopia Japonica” Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallopia_japonica 03SEP2016

[xvi] Author Unknown “Japanese Knotweed” Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources, Michigan Natural Features Inventory 2/2012 https://www.michigan.gov/documents/dnr/knotweed_BCP_372280_7.pdf  06SEP2016

[xvii] Beaulieu, David “Rhizomes: Definitions, Examples” About.com http://landscaping.about.com/cs/lazylandscaping/g/rhizome.htm Updated 12NOV2015

[xviii] Beaulieu, David “Eradication of Japanese Knotweed Plants” About.com http://landscaping.about.com/cs/weedsdiseases/a/knotweed.htm Updated 22FEB2016

[xix] Author Unknown “New York Invasive Species Information” Cornell University http://www.nyis.info/index.php?action=invasive_detail&id=43 2016

[xx] Author Unknown “Fallopia Japonica” Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallopia_japonica 04SEP2016

[xxi] Author Unknown “Japanese Knotweed” Ballinderry Rivers Trust

[xxii] Derbyshire, David “The dreaded alien eating your garden and home… but don’t dare try to kill the Japanese knotweed” Dailymail.com http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2358599/Alien-eating-garden-home–And-dont-dare-try-kill-dreaded-Japanese-knotweed.html posted 09JUL2013

[xxiii] Beaulieu, David “Eradication of Japanese Knotweed Plants” About.com http://landscaping.about.com/cs/weedsdiseases/a/knotweed.htm Updated 22FEB2016

[xxiv] Beaulieu, David “Eradication of Japanese Knotweed Plants” About.com http://landscaping.about.com/cs/weedsdiseases/a/knotweed.htm Updated 22FEB2016

[xxv] Author Unknown “New York Invasive Species Information” Cornell University http://www.nyis.info/index.php?action=invasive_detail&id=43 2016

[xxvi] Beaulieu, David “Eradication of Japanese Knotweed Plants” About.com http://landscaping.about.com/cs/weedsdiseases/a/knotweed.htm Updated 22FEB2016

[xxvii] Author Unknown “Japanese Knotweed Project. MassAudubon website http://www.massaudubon.org/our-conservation-work/ecological-management/invasive-species/projects/japanese-knotweed-control-project 2016

[xxviii] Author Unknown “Japanese Knotweed” Ballinderry River Trust http://www.ballinderryriver.org/index.php/trust-area/wildlife/japanese-knotweed 05SEP2016

[xxix] Green Deane “Japanese Knotweed: Dreadable Edible” Eat the Weeds, and Other Things, too http://www.eattheweeds.com/japanese-knotweed-dreadable-edible/ 02SEP2016

[xxx] Green Deane “Japanese Knotweed: Dreadable Edible” Eat the Weeds, and Other Things, too http://www.eattheweeds.com/japanese-knotweed-dreadable-edible/ 02SEP2016

[xxxi] Author Unknown “Godzilla” Leafly.com https://www.leafly.com/indica/godzilla 05SEP2016

 

Photo Credit: me

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