Alys Fowler, the former Gardeners’ World presenter, made headlines recently with her rather bold suggestion that we could tackle the problem of Japanese knotweed by eating it. And while this may seem outlandish, many other keen gardeners and vegetable growers are backing the idea. Because while we may all hate the weed for the damage it does, it turns out too, it may be quite tasty.
Big in Japan
Knotweed, or Fallopia Japonica, to give it its Latin name, was introduced to Britain as an ornamental garden plant by the Victorians in the 1800s. The name alone can strike terror into the hearts of homeowners as it is famed for its quick growth and spread of upwards of 30cm a week, per vine. And although it can always be cut back, getting to it before the tiny tentacles permeate brickwork and structures is the real issue. It’s a fight which, sooner or later, most homeowners lose.
However, many people are surprised to learn that in Japan the knotweed plant, although also a weed, is not problematic. This is because of local pests and diseases, as well as a whole range of invertebrates and fungi, which keep the plant in check. Other fast-growing subtropical plants also prevent the knotweed from gaining dominance.
It’s place at the top
Obviously, introducing the Japanese ecosystem to the UK is not going to fix the problem. For most people, the best solution to fighting the weed is to call a professional such as http://jprenvironmental.co.uk/japanese-knotweed/. However, Fowler and others think we could go one step better. We could, essentially, become Japanese knotweed’s predators. If only we could develop a taste for the stuff.
We personally don’t know any one who has tried Japanese Knotweed in Gloucestershire but Fowler claims, it’s not that bad. As a cousin of our beloved rhubarb, knotweed has a sharp flavour and can be used to create tarts and jellies, pies, crumbles and jams.
In her opinion, if there were a demand for it, people would go looking for it ‘in season’ when it spreads the quickest and it would get picked. And while this might not eradicate the weed altogether, it would force it into submission, much like wild rhubarb. So, apple and knotweed crumble, anyone?