Japanese knotweed, Polygonum cuspidatum or Reynoutria japonica, is a plant that not everyone is wholly enthusiastic about. In many articles on knotweed you will also find words like ‘aggressive’, ‘invasive‘, ‘destroy’ and ‘combat’. I myself am less harsh with the plant. I believe that if we knew what we can do with it, we would welcome her presence. That’s why Japanese knotweed is getting a well-deserved space in this vademecum.
Maybe you’ve heard the saying if you can’t beat it, eat it? Well, that can be applied to this plant. Many parts of knotweed are edible. This relative of rhubarb is tasty to humans and animals. So, if we could make use of this fact a bit more cleverly, we could embrace Japanese knotweed and use its other properties as well.
When it comes to medicinal properties, Japanese knotweed is becoming increasingly more interesting. We already knew that it has a strong anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-tumor and phytoestrogenic effect. But it is now becoming more and more clear that it is also useful against Lyme disease and other persistent bacterial infections with devastating effects.
Magically, Japanese knotweed is interesting for binding rituals in the broadest sense of the word, whether it concerns someone or something. You can also use it to drive unwanted entities out of a person or building and distinguish friend from foe. All in all, I hope to show you another side of Japanese knotweed, that of a plant that you want to have as an ally.
Japanese knotweed is a plant that proliferates extremely fast. It spreads through a fast-growing root system, consisting of rhizomes and offshoots, which is extremely difficult to remove. The smallest piece of root will irrevocably spread again and grow into a large shrub. The sprouts that grow from the rhizomes are very powerful and can even push themselves through asphalt. In that respect, I can think of places where you’d definitely want to keep knotweed in check.
The sprouts develop into hollow stems which can be metres high. The stems consists of green / red internodes, just like bamboo, which are stem parts that are connected at with what looks like knots, which are called nodes.
At the nodes you’ll find the leaves, placed on petioles. Those leaves are 10 to 15 cm long, deltoid to ovate in shape. The leaf base is quite straight. The leaves are pinnate and acute at the end.
Clusters of white trumpet-shaped flowers grow at the end of the stems. The peduncle is clearly recognizable by the ochrea at the bottom of the stem. The flowers have 6 flower petals, which are grouped in 2 groups of 3. The stamens have red anthers. The seed has a rather characteristic shape because 2 flower petals remain attached to it. The seed itself is dark in colour.
Also known by the names Fallopia japonica and Polygonum cuspidatum.
Often seen as an unwanted plant and invasive exotic.
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