A History Of Japanese Knotweed In The UK

Known to reduce the value of the property and even bring about quarrels between neighbors, Japanese Knotweed is considered to be quite a controversial plant. The plant is known for taking over gardens and spreading swiftly. It has the ability to push out other plants simply because it spreads quickly. Fortunately, homeowners don’t have to live with it for long as it can be dealt with easily, especially because it is easily identified.

How this plant found its way into the UK is a topic that is rarely discussed, even though a lot has been said about how the plant spreads and how you can get rid of knotweed after buying a property that has it. The history of Japanese knotweed in the UK is an interesting one. And, learning more about it can go a long way towards helping you understand why it has done so well here, as well as how you can deal with it successfully, just in case you encounter it in the years to come.

The Origin Of Japanese Knotweed

While it is also native to Korea and China, Japanese Knotweed, as the name suggests, traces its origins to Japan. It was found growing on the sides of volcanoes, among my other plant species. In Japan and other parts of its native land, the plant benefits from a remarkable network of underground rhizomes, in addition to having the ability to reproduce naturally. Insects, fungi, and other plants and a challenging environment (than the UK environment), normally keep Japanese Knotweed in check when growing within its native surroundings.

The plant, which goes by the scientific name Reynoutria japonica, was discovered by Maarten Houttuyn (who also gave it its name), a Dutch naturalist back in the 18th Century. However, the plant was rediscovered and renamed, after the records of the initial discovery were lost for a while, by Phillip von Siebold, a Bavarian botanist, 150 years later after European botanists started venturing into Japan for exploration purposes. The plant was named Polygonum cuspidatum, by Siebold and Zuccarini – his partner. Makino, a Japanese botanist would later discover that both Siebold and Houttuyn were referring to the same plant in their discoveries, many years later, at the turn of the 20th Century.

How Did Japanese Knotweed Get To The United Kingdom?

Unaware of the effect that it would have on the environment, Philip von Siebold imported Japanese Knotweed to the UK back in 1850. Back then, it was common for the upper class to practice the cultivation of plants and botany. The practice of sending discoveries to nurseries in Europe, for cultivation and sale to botanical gardens and commercial nurseries across the globe was common among botanists like Siebold, as a means of funding their research. On a side note, if you are looking to get a knotweed specialist to come and remove your knotweed you may first want to make yourself familiar with the different types of insurance backed guarantee different companies offer.

The Reason Behind The Importation Of Japanese Knotweed Into The United Kingdom

Botanical cultivation and commercial sale are the two main reasons why this plant was imported into the UK. Over 1,000 different plants were collected by Siebold, during the entire time he lived in Japan. He chose to plant them in his base of operations, located on an artificial island named Dejima, right next to Nagasaki. Siebold would pack up a few samples and send them back home, to the Netherlands, every now and then. These plants would then be cultivated with care, before being packed up again and shipped to botanical gardens in Britain and Belgium. In 1850, an unmarked package of Japanese Knotweed was delivered to Kew Gardens in London.

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