An invasive plant species, Japanese Knotweed, has been identified in specific locations in and around Hawkenbury. Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) is a weed that spreads rapidly. In winter the plant dies back to ground level but by early summer the bamboo-like stems emerge from rhizomes deep underground to shoot to over 2.1m (7ft), suppressing all other plant growth. Eradication is impossible, as it is very hard to remove by hand or eradicate with chemicals. New legislation now covers its control and, if found in your garden, you may need to inform your building insurer.
Japanese knotweed is a fast-growing and strong clump-forming perennial, with tall, dense annual stems. Stem growth is renewed each year from the stout, deeply-penetrating rhizomes (creeping underground stems)
In spring, reddish-purple fleshy shoots emerge from crimson-pink buds at ground level. These grow rapidly, producing in summer, dense stands of tall bamboo-like canes which grow to 2.1m (7ft) tall. These canes have characteristic purple flecks, and produce branches from nodes along its length.
Leaves are heart or shovel-shaped and up to 14cm (5½in) in length and borne alternately (in a zig zag pattern) along the stems. The stems die back to ground level in winter, but the dry canes remain for several months or longer.
The creamy-white flower tassels produced in late summer and early autumn reach up to 15cm (6in).
Identification is important. Japanese knotweed can be confused with other plants including:
Fallopia baldschuanica (Russian vine)
Leycesteria formosa (Himalayan honeysuckle)
Persicaria microcephala (e.g. P. microcephala ‘Red Dragon’)
Several species of Persicaria and Polygonum, including Persicaria lapathifolia and P. maculosa can also be troublesome weeds but are not as invasive. Additionally it should be noted that a less troublesome form of Japanese knotweed is grown in gardens, Fallopia japonica var. compacta and its cultivars.
In Hawkenbury, Japanese Knotweed has been identified along the public footpath that runs past the old bowling green in the Recreation Ground. The council have been made aware of its presence. At the end of the public footpath, where it intersects with High Woods Lane, there are also dry canes visible. There is Japanese Knotweed present around the metal shed on High Woods Lane and it is likely that the plant has been spread along the new road that has been created by the farmer. The rear of Polesden Road and the Mews, off Nelson Road, also have signs of Japanese Knotweed. Thank you to Carol Watson, a local park user and horticulturist, who has shown us the various areas where Japanese Knotweed is present.
The legal situation
Buying and selling property
Since 2013, the seller is required to state whether Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) is present on their property through a TA6 form – the property information form used for conveyancing. Your conveyancer or solicitor will be able to provide full legal advice, however, here is a summary:
- If you are selling, it is your responsibility to check the garden for Japanese knotweed (bearing in mind that it can die back in winter). The TA6 form asks you to confirm whether your property is affected by Japanese knotweed and, where it is, to provide a management plan for its eradication from a professional company (see Seeking Help from the Professionals below)
- If you are buying, the presence of Japanese knotweed will be stated in the responses to the TA6 form. This often results in your mortgage lender requiring assurances that it will be eradicated before agreeing the funds. A management plan by a professional eradication company, backed by a transferable guarantee, is usually sufficient. It is most common for this plan to be provided by the seller before the purchase is completed
- Whether a buyer or seller, it is also worth being pro-active and checking the property for Japanese knotweed. Disputes over the identity of a plant, the failure to disclose its presence, or the lack of a management plan can result in delays, increased costs later in the buying process, or even a possible misrepresentation claim after the sale, so this approach will help avoid problems
An amendment to the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 includes invasive non-native plants including Japanese knotweed. Here are some key points for how this affects the homeowner:
- It is not illegal to have Japanese knotweed in your garden, but on your property you should aim to control this invasive non-native plant to prevent it becoming a problem in your neighbourhood. If it has a “detrimental effect of a persistent or continuing nature on the quality of life of those in the locality”, the legislation could be used to enforce its control and property owners may be prosecuted
- Where problems with Japanese knotweed occur in neighbouring gardens, we suggest that you speak or correspond directly with your neighbours (who may already be taking action to control this difficult weed). These informal steps should be taken before contacting your council to talk about action under the legislation
- Homeowners can consider control themselves for a small, isolated clump. However, a specialist professional company will be skilled at control, ensure eradication and can dispose of the plant waste at licensed landfill sites.
Information in this article was predominantly sourced from https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?pid=218.
A new study in Wales has determined that it is impossible to eradicate Japanese Knotweed. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-west-wales-43882916.