What can grow through asphalt, survive after being underwater and withstand temperatures of -30 degrees Celsius?  It’s not a villain from a superhero movie. It’s the invasive plant Japanese knotweed.

Most plants and animals introduced from other areas are not able to survive in a new environment. But some are able to survive and even thrive. Invasive species have competitive advantages that allow them to grow and reproduce quickly, outcompeting native species for space and resources.  In Japan, the Japanese knotweed is in balance with its local environment. There are insects that feed on it, disease that affects its survival and plants that can compete with it for space and resources. It’s only when Japanese knotweed expands beyond its native range that it becomes a problem.

Japanese Knotweed
Japanese Knotweed

The Japanese knotweed was originally brought to North America in the early 1900s as an ornamental plant. Its heart-shaped leaves and bamboo-like stems make an attractive plant, but once established it aggressively takes over. When one invasive plant takes over, we lose the variety of native plants in the area and the wildlife that depend on it.

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