Japanese Knotweed

Botanical NameFallopia japonica or Polygonum cuspidatum

Other Common Names: False Bamboo

Brief Description and Notes: Look to forage the young shoots in early spring; take note of the blooms in late summer. You will see just how aggressive and omnipresent this plant is in our area. To identify, look for spade/heart-shaped leaves and red/purple joints/nodes on the stem. New shoots are especially red with furled leaves.

Where To Look For It: Disturbed areas especially near water/moisture; edges of woods; roadsides

Ornamental Value: The flowers are attractive, but this isn’t a reason to propagate the plant given its invasive status. 

Ecological Roles: This is a notorious invasive in our region that spreads rapidly through multiple ways such as seed dispersal and stems shooting from its strong rhizome system. Its roots are unimaginably hardy and can even travel underneath and shoot up from concrete! It grows densely and tends to block out any other kind of native vegetation. However, non-native bees enjoy the flowers and contribute to honey production. 

Edibility and Other Human Use: Young shoots can be cooked or pickled. The tinctured roots are a well-known herbal remedy for Lyme’s disease. 


Gallery photos by Victoria Moyer

Penn State Extension: Japanese Knotweed