If it’s knot-weed, what is it? It’s not bamboo, for one thing, though it grows like it. It is the very thick shrub which is blooming in thin white arches right now along roadsides.
Japanese knotweed (Mexican bamboo) is in the buckwheat family. Years ago it was planted on purpose for vegetative barriers, but not any more! It is impossible to keep it from spreading where you don’t want it. Mowing it year after year does not kill it.
A summer resident, a medical doctor from Massachusetts, knows what it has done to their river and stream banks — totally lining them with thick growth that crowds out all native species and blocks the view of the water. He says that 15 years ago, Vermont was in the same state of invasion as we are now in the Adirondacks, and that most of the river and stream banks there are bulging with it now. Our forest preserve is almost free of it so far, and we have a chance to keep it that way if we work on controlling it in the surrounding areas.
This heroic man has been working for years when he visits here to recruit volunteers, to document where Japanese knotweed and two other kinds are, and to find funding to hire certified herbicide applicators to shoot the stems, with “guns” calibrated to inject a certain amount of glyphosate, one stem at a time. When done in late summer and fall after the plant flowers and before frost, the substance is pulled down into the roots, and up to 95 percent are killed the first year. A second application to the few remaining plants is needed the next year, and maybe in the third year. Glyphosate interferes with critical enzymes in the growing plant which are needed for building proteins, and degrades quickly in the ground. It can kill many other plants too, but this injection system affects only the injected plants.
A number of us met in Blue Mt. Lake recently (an article and picture was in our paper) to draw up battle plans. That area already has two certified technicians funded to work this year. As along waterways is a high priority, if there is money and time left they may come down here to treat the huge patch in North River right on the Hudson and the one at the depot which blocks the view of the river from the concert area.
When injection treatment is going to happen that year, it is important not to cut knotweed. Because new plants can grow from tiny pieces, mowing often increases the number of stems, though it also spreads underground very prolifically. Go to www.noknotweed.org for plenty of information on what it looks like, how the treatment works and more.
Our area needs to have and fund a certified herbicide applicator so we can handle our own knotweed, especially along the Hudson and other waterways. APIPP (ADK Park Invasive Plant Program), which I have been involved with since 1998, gave a substantial grant to Inlet for this effort. It is based in Keene Valley and is a very active, effective group run by professionals who have organized a number of volunteers from all over the Park to control many aliens on the loose in these beautiful Adirondack mountains. You (or your grandkid!) can google APIPP for an amazing amount of information about our unfriendly neighbors, the Big Green Aliens.