Japanese Knotweed

Japanese_Knotweed_jpgMembers of this family (Polygonaceae), commonly called the Buckwheat or Smartweed family, include 51 genera and 1,150 species.  Polu means “many” and gonu means “knee” for the swollen stem joints of many species.  Food plants in this family include Buckwheat, Sorrel and Rhubarb. The young shoots (up to 1 foot) are edible steamed or boiled and served like asparagus.  Slightly older stems can be peeled and the sour rind boiled with sugar and pectin to make a rhubarb-like jam. Roots bark can be used to make dye.

OtherCommonName:

Mexican Bamboo

ScientificName:

Polygonum cuspidatum

Community:

Edge

PlantStatus:

Naturalized from Japan

LifeSpan:

Perennial

PlantHeight:

3 to 9 feet

FruitingTime:

Late August to late September

Distribution:

Eastern Canada to North Carolina and west along Mississippi River ~ Statewide in NJ

FloweringTime:

May to late September

IdentifyingCharacteristics:

Tall shrublike growing in dense coarse-stemmed stands ~  Leaves broad, oval shaped with pointed tips ~ Flowers greenish white growing in slender fingerlike clusters ~ Stems hollow like bamboo with enlarged joints, mottled green dusted with white ~ stout rhizome