The invasive plant called Japanese knotweed. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

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Japanese knotweed is listed as one of the world’s worst invasive plants. It has heart-shaped leaves and pushes up red shoots in the spring that look like asparagus. It grows up to seven feet tall and produces large plumes of white flowers in the summertime. It may be pretty, but don’t be fooled. The tiniest portion of root or stem can start a new plant and the root system can spread up to 60 feet. It can put homeowners’ hard-earned investment at risk.

If people have this plant on their property, it’s important to act quickly to get it under control. It is possible, but it may take several years. One chemical-free, lower effort method of control is cutting down to the ground at select times of the year — around Memorial Day, again around July 4, and then in August. Doing this for three years should knock the plant back substantially.

The one thing people should never do is try to pull the plant roots up or dig it up. This will lead to it spreading even more. Do not transport soil from an area with knotweed to prevent the plant from spreading and be careful about getting fill soil since it may contain knotweed (along with other scary pests, such as jumping worms).

Rachel Smith