Knotweed a grow­ing prob­lem in Saratoga County

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Paul Post ppost@dig­i­tal­first­ @paul­v­post on Twit­ter

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. » A rapidly ex­pand­ing in­va­sive plant is wreak­ing eco­nomic and en­vi­ron­men­tal havoc in Saratoga County.

Ja­panese knotweed can dam­age side­walks, foun­da­tions and wa­ter lines, and causes stream­bank ero­sion that se­ri­ously im­pacts fish­ing, kayak­ing and re­lated ac­tiv­i­ties on wa­ter­ways such as Kay­deross Creek.

Laurel Gailor, of Cap­i­tal Mo­hawk PRISM (Part­ner­ship for Re­gional In­va­sive Species Man­age­ment), dis­cussed such threats dur­ing a re­cent pro­gram at Skid­more Col­lege.

“It can re­ally af­fect prop­erty val­ues,” she said. “It can de­ter peo­ple from buy­ing. One woman told me she looked at a house in Saratoga Springs and pulled her of­fer off the ta­ble be­cause she saw knotweed grow­ing on the prop­erty.”

Knotweed, which may grow 15 feet high, first came to the U.S. from Asia in the 1890s when it was used as pack­ing ma­te­rial for over­seas ship­ping. Like many in­va­sives, it has grown steadily over time and has now be­come quite prob­lem­atic.

Ja­panese knotweed is found in 42 states coast to coast ex­cept the arid South­west, sev­eral of the Deep South Gulf states and the high­est of the Rocky

Moun­tains. It is also in eight Cana­dian Prov­inces.

It’s com­monly found along streams and rivers and quite of­ten it’s moved by high wa­ter. Pieces car­ried down­stream take hold and soon be­gin to spread. Many ar­eas along the Kay­deross are lined with knotweed, which has a white flower, Gailor said.

Worst of all, the plant is ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to erad­i­cate. Rhi­zomes, or roots, have an ex­ten­sive un­der­ground net­work. So chop­ping the plant down does no good and can make mat­ters worse be­cause even tiny pieces may take hold with­out proper dis­posal.

Dig­ging, “so­larz­ing” and treat­ing with chem­i­cals are the three most com­mon ways to com­bat knotweed, Gailor said.

How­ever, dig­ging re­quires heavy equip­ment to fully re­move roots, at least eight to 10 feet deep. Ma­te­rial should be burned be­fore fill­ing the pit back in.

To “so­lar­ize” knotweed, plants should be placed on a large tarp and cov­ered with black plas­tic in a sunny spot, which “cooks” and kills knotweed. This nat­u­ral dis­posal method takes sev­eral months. Plants cov­ered in early sum­mer may take un­til au­tumn to break down and de­com­pose.

The most ef­fec­tive method, ap­proved by The Na­ture Con­ser­vancy, is the use of her­bi­cides. But this should only be done by a li­cense, trained ap­pli­ca­tor. This tech­nique is used for erad­i­cat­ing large ar­eas, Gailor said.

A list of ap­pli­ca­tors is avail­able from PRISM.

Peo­ple should be ex­tremely care­ful not to put knotweed with lawn trim­mings and yard waste that goes to a mu­nic­i­pal com­post­ing fa­cil­ity be­cause the plant can take hold and spread there.

Cap­i­tal Mo­hawk PRISM is one of eight PRISM or­ga­ni­za­tions set up around the state to deal with prob­lems re­lated to in­va­sive species.

For more in­for­ma­tion, call (518) 885-8995 or go to www.cap­i­tal­mo­


Ja­panese knotweed is ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to erad­i­cate once it takes hold.


Ja­panese knotweed is an in­va­sive species that has se­ri­ous en­vi­ron­men­tal and eco­nomic im­pacts.

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