Japanese Knotweed or Itadori as it is known in Japan, an ornamental plant introduced to the UK by Victorian garden explorers has, since 1981, been a banned species. Anybody found to be transporting it can be punished by the force of law under the Wildlife and Coutryside Act. Knotweed grows very well in the UK, North America and Europe and is extremely difficult to eradicate once established with even the tiniest amount. It is tolerant of almost all soil types and able to withstand huge ranges of temperature down to -35C.
One family to have discovered, to their cost, the vigour and resilience of the Knotweed plant is an English couple in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire. The Jones' have found that their new home has been invaded by the plant with dire consequences to the value of their property. With young twins they cannot risk extensive use of toxic chemicals to kill the beast and with growth of 10cm (4 inches) each day they are involved in a daily battle to contain the monster.
Surveys have shown that 3m (10ft) of soil needs to be removed from beneath their house to rid themselves of the problem but that will require massive structural work. In the meantime the value of their property has fallen by £250, 000 to a current level of £50,000 and without urgent remedial work it is unlikely to stop there. Legal discussions are underway and it is hoped that insurers will step in to pick up the cost. Without this the house will gradually disappear under the plant as concrete and brickwork present no problem to this most voracious example of nature's handiwork.
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