Japanese knotweed, an aggressive invasive species, is the cause of many legal battles in the UK right now. The invasive weed, often planted as an ornamental, can flourish in almost any type of soil and is quickly taking over backyards in the UK. It spreads with little effort and overwhelms other plants and damages ecosystems. Ecosystems are not the only victim of Japanese knotweed, it can also destroy roads, walls and foundations.
Impacts of Japanese Knotweed
- Fast Spreading
- Aggressive root system that can destroy asphalt, tarmac, and concrete
- Reduces biodiversity by taking over whole ecosystems
- Can grow from a fingernail sized piece of root
Its aggressive nature is has caused many legal battles between neighbours in the UK. It can easily cross property boundaries and fences. An infestation reduces property values and the cost to remove it is often in the thousands of dollars. It is such a huge problem in the UK that planting or disposing of Japanese knotweed can land you up to two years in prison, a large fine, or both. In fact, knotweed material, and soil containing the roots is classified as a controlled waste and must be properly disposed of in a licensed landfill.
Japanese Knotweed and the Law
Some British banks have deemed houses unsellable, pulling out on deals in the last minute, after learning a property has Japanese knotweed growing on the premises. Experts state this is an over reaction to the problem. No house has ever been reported destroyed by the weed. None the less, some lenders are shifting to panic mode and want nothing to do with any properties that contain the invasive weed.
Due to the financial implications that this plant may impose upon a homeowner, British authorities now allow you to apply for an injunction requiring your neighbour to impede the growth of his/her knotweed. Financial compensation may also be sought for any damage to your property caused by a neighbour’s Japanese knotweed.
Japanese Knotweed in Toronto
This invasive plant is found in Canada from Ontario to the East Coast, and in British Columbia. In Ontario it is found in the Southern region and across the Greater Toronto Area. It can be found in gardens, overgrown abandoned sites, and along road sides. It has recently been spotted in the Don Valley and in High Park. Japanese knotweed is still found at some nurseries and is often planted in urban backyards as it provides quick and easy privacy. If you notice a neighbour with Japanese knotweed growing in his/her garden, it is advisable to educate them about the dangers of the weed and to ensure they eradicate it using the proper methods.
Identifying Japanese Knotweed
- Semi-woody perennial
- Can reach heights of 3 metres
- Reddish, smooth, round stems with a bamboo-like appearance
- Oval leaves, 3-6 inches long and 2-5 inches wide with pointed ends
- Greenish white flowers
If you spot Japanese knotweed, report the sighing online and call the Invading Species Hotline at 1-800-563-7711 to learn what steps must be taken to eradicate the weed