Just as I was motoring along peacefully, I noticed a very disturbing sight – unwanted and unloved immigrants at the side of the road. And, lo and behold, shortly afterwards the local council put up signs regarding this. Because, those immigrants really take over everything and leave you out of house and home if you do not act fast. By killing them off.
Of course, we are talking “invasive species”, specifically foreign flora making its destructive way through Ireland’s forty shades of green. And even worse than the already dreaded rhododendron. Battle stations – Japanese knotweed has arrived in Cavan.
So, what’s the story? According to the comprehensive website Invasive Species Ireland it is a big one indeed. Never mind that the plant has led homeowners in the UK to suicide already, seeing (literally) the worth and the walls of their family homes crumble. Even without such drastic extremes, the weed is ominous:
Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica), is an invasive herbaceous perennial (a plant that can live more than one year). Since it was introduced as an ornamental plant in the 19th Century from Japan, it has spread across the island of Ireland, particularly along watercourses, transport routes and waste grounds where its movement is unrestricted. Japanese knotweed can:
- Seriously damage houses, buildings, hard surfaces and infrastructure growing through concrete, tarmac and other hard surfaces in some cases.
- Threaten native plants and animals by forming dense thickets.
- Block routes used by wildlife to disperse.
- Riverside Japanese knotweed damages flood defence structures and reduces the capacity of channels to carry flood water.
Convinced? Then, by all that may be holy to you, do NOT go out with the old strimmer and cut it away. Because the not-so-little buggers will fall before the mighty blade, only to be reborn from even minute plant scratchings in all their glory. You’ll be fighting a losing battle, actually you’ll be helping to spread Japanese knotweed even further.
The only way to go – deep earth excavation under controlled conditions, picture the recovery of a nuclear device in your back garden. Or chemical warfare, because this plant can be killed off by some poisons. But even that is a process that has to be repeated over years.
Somehow, the council putting up notices strikes me as an almost futile gesture here – action is needed. And planting a sign where it will soon be overgrown will not discourage the old hedgetrimmer, on his phone in the air-conditioned cabin of his Massey or Deere. He’ll not even raise an eybrow when the sound of the sign being shredded, to be followed by the knotweed, reaches his ear – jist another feckin’ roadside ad, innit?