Japanese Knotweed, Invasive In The US, So Eat As Much As You’d Like

eattheplanet.org is an affiliate marketer. We may earn commission from links to products and services on this page.

our facebook page for additional articles and updates.

Follow us on Twitter @EatThePlanetOrg


Japanese Knotweed Grove
Japanese Knotweed grove

We have all seen this plant growing along stream beds and in wet areas.  Japanese Knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum / Fallopia japonica) is native to… you guessed it, Japan.  It’s also native to other parts of Asia.  This plant has naturalized in many parts of the world, it grows in 39 of the 50 United States and is listed as one of the world’s worst 100 invasive plant species by the World Conservation Union.  In other words there is no guilt in cutting down a Japanese Knotweed grove just to eat a few stalks. Another common name for this plant is Japanese Bamboo, because it grows with nodes similar to bamboo although it is not a bamboo.

Edibility and Culinary Use

Japanese Knotweed Shoot
Japanese Knotweed shoot, edible at this size and slightly larger

Japanese Knotweed is a favorite wild edible to many people around the world because it is so easy to harvest and identify, and it tastes so good.  The stems can be eaten either raw or cooked when they are still juicy in the early spring, they get too tough to eat as the season progresses.   The taste is similar to rhubarb, sour and tart.  It can be used as a rhubarb substitute in pies. 

Health Benefits

The nutritional benefits of Japanese knotweed are that it contains vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and manganese. It also contains resveratrol which is a substance still being studied for its numerous health benefits. 

Key ID Features

Japanese Knotweet spreads by runners which send up stalks that can reach about 6′ in height.  The stalks are segmented by nodes every 6″-8″ similar to bamboo. There are 2 types of new growth in the spring, seed growth and runner growth.  Seedlings are small and thin.  New stalks originating from runner roots come up about 1″-1.5″ stem diameter, and they grow very quickly, these are the stalks that are usually eaten.

Video on How to Identify Japanese Knotweed

Cautions

Japanese Knotweed contains oxalic acid just like rhubarb, spinach and some other common vegetables. Oxalic Acid aggravates conditions such as rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity.  So if your doctor has told you to avoid oxalic acid then avoid Japanese Knotweed.

Conclusion

Japanese Knotweed
Japanese Knotweed mature stalks, too hard and dry to be edible (Photo By: Michael Gasperl / Wikimedia Commons)

This is a plant that can be harvested in large quantities. So unless your limiting your oxalic acid intake this plant should be part of everyone’s diet, it’s easy to find, identify, harvest, very good for you, and it tastes great. So next time you see Japanese Knotweed growing in a clean streambed in early spring think about taking some home.



Featured Videos - eattheplanet.org

Many of our readers find that subscribing to Eat The Planet is the best way to make sure they don't miss any of our valuable information about wild edibles.

Subscribe to our mailing list

our facebook page for additional articles and updates.

Follow us on Twitter @EatThePlanetOrg



Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) White Variant
Yarrow, a Delicious and Nutritious Panacea
Read more.
Wood Betony (Stachys officinalis) Blooms
Wood Betony, a Fascinating Herb with Many Benefits
Read more.
St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) Flowers
St. John’s Wort, a Vibrant Edible Great for Depression
Read more.
Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca)
Motherwort, Calming and Relieving the Anxious Mind
Read more.
Marsh Mallow (Althaea officinalis)
Marsh Mallow, the Sweet Edible that Inspired the Candy
Read more.
Marjoram (Origanum majorana)
Marjoram, an Aromatic Herb with Many Medicinal Uses
Read more.
Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis), also known as American black elderberry or common elderberry, is a shrub that can easily be found throughout North America. It’s known for its delicious, dark purple berries and lacy white flowers. Elderberries and elderflowers are famous for their culinary and medicinal uses. Edibility and culinary use Almost all parts of this plant are poisonous, except for its flowers and ripe berries. Elderflowers are delicate and fragrant with a slightly tart flavor. These cream-colored flowers are typically used as an edible garnish or to flavor desserts and beverages. Elderflowers can also be made into jelly or deep-fried to make fritters. Dried elderflowers can also be brewed to make medicinal herbal tea. Much like elderflowers, elderberries taste tangy and tart, although stronger. These dark purple berries should never be eaten raw as it might cause stomach aches. Elderberries are usually made into jam, marmalade, pastry filling, juice, wine, tincture, and syrup. Elderberry tincture and syrup are often used for medicinal remedy. Health benefits Elderberry is packed with important nutrients. Both the berries and flowers are rich in vitamin A, B, and C. The tiny berries even contain more vitamin C than oranges. They’re high in dietary fiber which can promote a healthy digestive system. Elderberries and elderflowers also contain a lot of antioxidants like anthocyanins, flavonols, and phenolic acids. This means they’re great for reducing oxidative stress in the body, preventing cancer, and reducing inflammations. Elderflowers and elderberries are often used to treat and prevent cold. They’re also great for alleviating cold symptoms, such as cough, nasal congestion, and fever. Elderberry is also said to be good for treating allergy and asthma symptoms. Its anti-inflammatory property also makes it great for alleviating pain, treating mouth and gum inflammation, reducing toothache, and treating digestive problems. Lastly, consuming elderberry can improve cardiovascular health as it helps lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol levels. Cultivation Elderberry is not very hard to cultivate. With some work and patience, you’ll be able to grow some elderberry shrubs in your own garden. While it loves moist, fertile, and well-drained soil, this plant can tolerate almost every type of soil. But, it can’t tolerate drought at all. So, be sure to water the plant regularly. Plant elderberry in a location with full sun for a better harvest. Before planting, prepare the soil by incorporating manure or compost. Plant elderberry bushes in the spring, after the last frost date has passed. Plant each plant 6” to 10” apart, make sure the roots are well-covered. Water them once or twice a week to ensure they don’t dry out. Get rid of surrounding weed regularly, especially when the shrubs are young. Let the shrubs grow wild for the first two years. Don’t prune them or harvest the flowers and berries. This way, they’ll grow nicely and produce a lot of berries. Then, starting from the third year, prune the shrubs each spring and remove all the dead areas. The berries will start to appear at the end of summer and they will ripen around mid-August to mid-September. Make sure to pick them before the birds finish them off. Cautions Common elderberry leaves, stems, and roots are poisonous. Ripe elderberries are generally safe, but unripe elderberries contain toxins that can only be destroyed through cooking. Eating unripe or uncooked elderberries may result in nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Elderberry may cause the immune system to be more active, so people with autoimmune disorders should avoid consuming elderberry. Also, be careful not to confuse elderberry shrubs with the toxic water hemlock. These plants look somewhat similar, moreover, they typically grow in the same area. Elderberry has opposing leaves while water hemlock has alternating leaves.  Water hemlock doesn’t grow berries, but they do grow flowers. Water hemlock flowers look similar to elderflowers, but they have a firecracker-like formation. Do not touch or ingest water hemlock flowers at all. Conclusion Elderberry can be a valuable source of food and herbal remedy if you know how to prepare it. This plant’s tiny berries and dainty flowers definitely pack a punch when it comes to flavor. They’re versatile and can be used in a lot of delicious recipes. And their health benefits are undoubtedly amazing as well. It’s not a surprise to find that Native Americans have been using elderberries and elderflowers to make traditional herbal medicine.
Elderberry, Tasty and Packed with Nutrients
Read more.
Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) Flowering Meadow
Echinacea, the Gorgeous and Useful Purple Coneflowers
Read more.
Blue Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)
Blue Skullcap, a Small Medicinal Herb that Packs a Punch
Read more.
American witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)
American Witch Hazel, an Underrated Herbal Remedy
Read more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>