VIDEO and story: Knotweed invading city and residential land

Japanese knotweed, one of, if not the most aggressive invasive plants in the world, has arrived on the North Coast’s doorstep, video.

Alora Griffin presented a lecture on Japanese knotweed in April.

Alora Griffin presented a lecture on Japanese knotweed in April.

There’s a growing threat in Prince Rupert and it could be as close as on your very own property.

Japanese knotweed, one of, if not the most aggressive invasive plants in the world, has arrived on the North Coast’s doorstep and instead of knocking on the door, it’s barged in with a vengeance.

The exceedingly resilient plant has been spotted all over Prince Rupert – on federal lands, city property and in the yards of homeowners across town.

Lurking silently beneath the earth through a system of roots, Japanese knotweed (or fallopia japonica) can have roots that extend three metres into the ground and grow to be three to six metres tall.

The plant spreads through root and stem fragments dispersed through human activity, or they can be carried by water, according to the Northwest Invasive Plant Council, a B.C.-based organization.

The plant is characterized by its triangular-shaped leaves and long stems which resemble bamboo or rhubarb due to its round-hollow stalks. The knotweed thrives in moist to wet areas and can be found in gardens, near stream banks and coastal areas and in newly disturbed soil.

Not only a threat to Prince Rupert, the knotweed family, which also includes giant, bohemian and Himalayan knotweed, has been found all over the world, including in Britain, where the invasion has become so bad it’s a criminal offence to try and remove it yourself lest you spread it elsewhere.

A regional expert on knotweed

Prince Rupert resident Alora Griffin has done extensive research on the plant and recently gave a lecture on the topic through Transition Prince Rupert’s garden series.

“If you have knotweed in your garden, you cannot get a mortgage [in parts of the U.K.], you cannot get insurance and your neighbours can’t sell their property [in parts the U.K.] because it spreads that rapidly,” said Griffin in May. In B.C., insurance and mortgage issues have not arisen because of the plant.

“The plant is so strong, the chutes can grow through concrete, through metal and through asphalt. They can destroy septic fields. They have been known to grow through people’s foundations and tear down buildings because of it.”

The Northwest Invasive Plant Council (NWIPC) has identified eight species that have been found in Prince Rupert: Comfrey, English Holly, Common Tansy, Hawkweeds (orange and yellow), Himalayan Balsam, Marsh Plume Thistle, Oxeye Daisy, Scotch Broom and Knotweed (giant, Himalayan and Japanese).

But Public Enemy No.1 is Japanese Knotweed due to its destructive nature. Griffin wanted to learn more because with climate change, Prince Rupert may be in for more mild winters than normal, and hotter summers more conducive to invasive plants. May has also been declared Invasive Species Action Month in B.C.

Looks can be deceiving

It doesn’t help that the plant is aesthetically pleasing to the eye, said Griffin.

“It’s pretty. That’s why people keep it in their gardens and I’m a gardener. So what you do if you like a plant and you say to your friend or neighbour, ‘Would you like a piece of this plant?’ and I think that’s how it got over to Haida Gwaii – because people like it. It looks very pretty. It looks like a bamboo and bamboo can be invasive, but not as invasive as this,” Griffin said, adding Prince Rupert already deals with native species that can run amok like salmonberry, which also has an underground root system.

The treatment for these plants is extremely time-consuming and repetitive. Rather than try and dig up the roots or stems, Japanese knotweed needs to be treated with repeated injections of herbicide through by professionals directly into the stalks.

This needs to be performed multiple times over a course of two to three years before an area is completely free of the plant. Dead knotweed looks like brown, thin fallen branches and new knotweed can take its place just as easily in the same place if left untreated — even burning it is futile.

“This is something the community is going to have to tackle. The city has been in contact with the council because there are a few sites that have been identified … I think the key here is education. What is happening is people are dumping. They start digging it up out of their garden when it starts to take over and they dump it. But it can’t be killed,” Griffin said, adding that locations off Graham Avenue and on Mount Hays are identified to the council as dump sites (that shouldn’t be encouraged).

What the city is doing about the weed

City engineering coordinator Richard Pucci said that the education is vital for residents before the plant gets out of hand.

“The worst thing that could happen is if we get it at our landfill, because then it could just take over out there,” he said.

City communications manager Veronika Stewart added that there are a couple different ways that residents can contact the city if they find the plant.

“Japanese knotweed has been identified in several locations around Prince Rupert and our operations department is now looking at taking a proactive approach to managing it. We’re currently working with the NWIPC to develop a management plan for ourselves as well as the community at large,” said Stewart.

“In the meantime, if you spot Japanese knotweed in your neighbourhood or on city property, you can contact 250-624-6795 – that’s the public works department – to report it. Additionally, if you’ve got a smartphone, you can download the Report A Weed app for both Apple and Android phones to report the location of the plant and upload an image of it.”

“The herbicide has to be applied professionally,” said Griffin. “The plant councils work with municipalities and ministries and hydro, wherever the plant is identified. The councils hire the professional teams that come in and apply the herbicide.”

Additionally, city workers can remove the plant if properly trained they have been notified to keep an eye out for it while working outside. All public works employees have been trained on it, said Pucci.

Just Posted

BC Ferries has announced the welcoming back onboard of recreational travellers on June 15 after the provincial travel restrictions were lifted. (Courtesy of BC Ferries)
BC Ferries welcomes back recreational passengers

The ferries corp will relax mask-wearing in outdoor spaces

Nic Pirillo received $1,000 Youth WORK Apprenticeship Award presented to him by Erik Brooke and Catlin Chandler of Broadwater Industries, in front of the boat Pirillo built in his free time using newly acquired skills. (Photo: supplied)
Learning and earning with apprenticeship

Nic Pirillo graduated in 2020 and was awarded the Youth WORK Trades award

According to the BC Centre of Disease Control epidemiology mapping from May 30 to June 5, there was an increase of one case in the Prince Rupert area after a three-week stability of no new cases. (Image: supplied BC CDC)
Prince Rupert second dose vaccination clinic to run from June 14 to July 9

Volunteers needed for P.R. immunization clinic, recipients must register and cases back up to one

Capt. Portugal was getting into the festive spirit out working for the City of Prince Rupert and celebrating Seafest 2021, on June 12. During regular business hours Capt. Portugal is known as David Costa. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Searching out fun in the sun for Seafest 44

Families and friends can participate in weekend COVID-19 friendly activities

Seafest is underway with a sunfest theme from June 11 to 13 in Prince Rupert. Alex Hoogendorn vice president of Prince Rupert Special Events is creating sunny times making feature for the decorating contest with his son Caleb Hoogendorn on June 4. (K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Seafest 44 plans a sunfest June 11 to 13 in Prince Rupert

All events in festival are COVID-19 safe, social distancing and health protocols approved by N.H.A.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Most Read