How did Japanese knotweed get here?
Native to Japan, Korea and parts of East Asia and China, historical information shows us that Japanese knotweed was brought to the UK by a German-born botanist, Philipp von Siebold in 1850. This was during a wave of popularity surging through Victorian Britain to collect and study plants from across the world.
Japanese knotweed flowers and foliage were used for animal fodder and, at first, prized for their beauty—so much so, that in 1847, the species was named as ‘the most interesting new ornamental plant of the year,’ by the Society of Agriculture and Horticulture in Utrecht.
Inevitably, the interest in Japanese knotweed quickly evolved into, ‘How on earth can we get rid of it?’ because it proved to be a ferocious, invasive and destructive plant. In its natural habitat, on the side of volcanoes, the extreme climate, deposits of volcanic ash, native fungi and insects limited its spread, but in Britain, there are no such natural regulators or predators.