Isn’t this a stunning specimen of Polygonum cuspidatum? The generous rainfall we’ve had this season has brought it into top form. Too bad it’s on America’s Most Wanted list. Yes, this is Japanese knotweed, aka Japanese bamboo, Mexican bamboo, fleeceflower, and Fallopia japonica. (I’ve been told that it’s also known as privy weed, but I couldn’t find any confirmation of this on the web. However, the luxurious stand pictured above is growing right where I was told the outhouse was located, back in the days when our house lacked indoor plumbing. Presumably the leaves were used as a makeshift toilet paper.) And all this luxuriant vegetation will be knocked down by the first frost, only to rise again next spring. Vigorous scarcely begins to describe this ambitious plant. It is invasive. It is beautiful. Who said villains are always ugly? And if you like to play with fire, Plant Delights Nursery sells three Polygonum cuspidatums that they claim do not spread by rhizomes. Two of them are variegated, and they are wow! plants. But will I buy one? Let’s just say, “once burned, twice shy.”
A lot of the weeds are looking really good.Pictured above is smartweed, not sure which one, either Pennsylvania smartweed (Polygonum pensylvanicum) or lady’s thumb (Polygonum persicaria). They are quite similar to the garden perennials P. bistorta and P. affine, and they are all in the buckwheat family–and in the same genus as the ground-conquering fleeceflower at the top.
I like this one so much, I have trouble thinking of it as a weed, especially since it is so easy to pull out. It’s spotted jewelweed, Impatiens capensis. Yes, it’s related to what we think of as garden impatiens, which are native to the tropics. Jewelweed is a native plant that hummingbirds love. The watery stems soothe the itch of poison ivy (but don’t cure it) and it supposedly has fungicidal properties. The ripe seed pods burst explosively when touched, to the great amusement of all who are young at heart.
Beauty is not the only criteria for inclusion in a garden, but, thank God, we can enjoy beauty wherever we may find it–even though we may battle with it for supremacy every other moment of the growing season.