Bamboo on steroids

In the traditional Japanese watercolours, the flowers are spindly and delicate - but not the Japanese knotweed. It looks a bit like bamboo fed on steroids - a plant so voracious it cannot be contained. Brought from Asia by the Victorians, it can grow by an inch a day to reach 10 feet tall by the middle of summer. Knotweed can penetrate all types of earth, it can even come through brick, concrete, metal and wood causing cracks and subsidence on a massive scale. Is there anything good to say about this invasive plant? Actually, yes. At a time of year when little else is flowering, Japanese knotweed blooms. The flowers are valued by some beekeepers as valuable sources of nectar for honey. Scientists also say that the plant may contain properties which are anti-aging and anti-cancer. Maybe if it does, it will go someway to make up for the fact that controlling knotweed each year costs £150 million. The problem is these controlling methods are simply not working: weedkiller, chopping it down, digging it up, it simply keeps coming back year on year - it really is an unwanted alien invader.

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