Conquer Invasive Japanese Knotweed by Eating It


| 4/30/2015 10:31:00 AM


Tags: Leda Meredith, foraging, edible wild plants, Japanese knotweed, New York,

japanese knotweed 

Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum or Fallopia japonica) is an invasive wild plant that is also a versatile ingredient, but only during the few short weeks of spring when it is tender enough to bother harvesting.

This plant was originally introduced to North America by the horticultural industry as an ornamental because its fast-growing, jointed stalks form attractive colonies that are reminiscent of bamboo. Like bamboo, the stalks are hollow except at the joints, but that's where the similarity ends.

Japanese knotweed stalks are speckled with red (or sometimes entirely red) and have papery sheaths at the joints. Often compared to rhubarb, Japanese knotweed does have a similarly tart flavor but also strong earthy green overtones. Like rhubarb it is crunchy raw but quickly cooks down to a soft, pulpy mass. It is good in both savory and sweet recipes.

When the plants first emerge from the perennial roots in early spring, they shoot straight up. As they get taller, the stalks begin to zig and zag at the joints, eventually branching and becoming as high as 8 feet tall.

The leaves are smooth-edged and shaped like a gardener's trowel. When the plants finally flower, the cream-colored flowers are in clusters and become aerodynamic seeds that spread far and wide, carried by the wind.




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