Invading aliens. Houses under attack. Fearsome female clones which can chew through buildings. It’s no wonder people start to lose the plot a bit when their thoughts turn to Japanese Knotweed.
The alien superweed has been finding fertile soil in the tabloid newspapers recently with tales of house prices being slashed by its presence and celebrity homeowners such as Tom Conti comparing its infestation to the classic horror movie The Day of the Triffids.
But once the last bug-eyed extra has run screaming from the set, perhaps it is time for calmer and more rational voices to prevail. And the fact is that Japanese Knotweed, alarming though it may initially appear, is in reality no worse than any other defect in a house – and it can be dealt with accordingly.
Rather than householders throwing up their hands, panicking and thinking that they will never sell their property, the more realistic message is that, if they catch it quickly and get it properly treated, Knotweed need be no worse than, say, a outbreak of dry rot.
Reading reports in the press, it is perhaps understandable that edgy home owners will be on the lookout for any sign of the shovel-shaped leaves, white blossoms and tough cane-like stems of fallopia Japonica.
Like so many of what we now think of as British garden plants, it was brought to Europe by the plant hunters of the Victorian era who scoured the wildernesses of the globe to find exotica for the collections of the burgeoning middle classes.
Knotweed originally grew on the sides of volcanoes, where it evolved by burying its roots deep underground to survive frequent eruptions, hot ash and flows of molten lava. In its native environment, it rarely grows more than about 18 inches tall.