So, we have this area in the northwest corner of our property that we pretty much leave alone. Over the past few years I’ve watched it change–there are lots of invasives like blackberry and cleavers back there, but there are also filbert, oak, douglas fir, and apple trees, osoberry bushes, and some other little bushes I haven’t identified yet. And in the past two years, native varieties of waterleaf and fringecup have really started to thrive in the hilly, shady, damp corner. Also I’ve noticed the sword ferns slowly becoming larger and more prolific, and some mosses.
At the edge of the little thicket of trees and bushes, there’s a somewhat open (but still shady) hillside where I’ve found an astounding number of plants: red clover, white clover, self-heal, ox-eye daisy, St. John’s Wort (which never blooms because there’s no SUN), teasel, plantain, dandelions, and more blackberries, waterleaf, and fringecup. There are more things, too, which I have yet to identify, including this big fella:
Though it looks for all the world like the beginning of Jack’s Beanstalk, it’s never produced a bean, and it always dies back when the cold weather hits, long before it gets a chance to reach to the clouds. Alas, no Golden Goose for me . . . but I always thought Jack was kind of a jerk, so I guess I’m okay with not following in his footsteps.
So last night I pulled out Weeds of the West and Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast, and started looking. I also entertained the hubster by reading the common names of weeds out loud as though they were curses or Shakespearean insults. “Skunky Jacob’s Ladder!!!! I can’t find my car keys!!!!” or “Be Gone, Thou Wooly Lousewort, and a pox on your house!” Hey, you take your entertainment where you can find it.
After a lot of turning pages, and arguing with The Mad Scientist that it is NOT, in fact, bamboo, I finally found it. I think. I’m pretty sure what we have is Giant Knotweed– Polygonum sachalinense. I’m not 100% certain, but I’m 98% certain. Ours doesn’t seem to get as huge as some of the pictures I found. And I’ve never seen it bloom, but that could be simply a failure of observation on my part. Also, I’ve read that it’s very invasive, but ours tends to stick to one area, and it doesn’t spread much. I wonder if the conditions are just not quite what it needs, or if the competition from so many other plants keeps it in check? I know nothing about the plant except that it looks exotic and enormous. Our neighbor calls it “dinosaur food”.
Can anybody out there confirm it for me? If it helps, the stems are hollow and sort of fragile, and at this point in the year it’s already close to five feet tall.