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Letter: Help Stop Knotweed Invasion

To the Editor:

We need to stop the spread of Japanese knotweed. Japanese knotweed (also known as Mexican bamboo) is taking over Vermont (and the rest of the U.S.). It’s an invasive species spreading wildly through underground rhizomes (large roots). Hurricane Irene spread it a lot, too. It can tolerate a lot of different conditions such as full sunlight, full shade, drought and more, but it is most commonly found along roadsides and wet places like marshes and riverbanks.

We need to help prevent the spread of Japanese knotweed because the invasive makes it hard for native plants to grow, and lots of native animals and insects rely on native vegetation. Japanese knotweed causes flooding when it grows on banks, causes erosion to building foundations when it grows up through concrete, and reduces land values.

I’m not saying there are no beneficial values to Japanese knotweed because there are. Japanese knotweed has preventative effects against Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease and some cancers. But the scientists who do research on it for those uses should grow it in sealed greenhouses, so it can’t spread.

In the meantime, here are some ways to remove it: grubbing (using a digging tool to remove it); cutting (cutting the knotweed over several years); and herbicides (spraying glyphosate on it). Just remember to remove it in the proper way and never include it in regular household trash so it doesn’t re-root.

We really need to stop the spread of Japanese knotweed in Vermont; it’s a real problem.

Allison Collins

Sixth Grade, Westshire Elementary School