Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Japanese knotweed stabilises embankments?

Posted on by royvickery |

Early in June 2020 Japanese knotweed,  Reynoutria (formerly Fallopiajaponica, was discussed on the Friends of Tooting Common Facebook page.  One contribution, from an estate-agent, enquired:

‘Was it not introduced on railway embankments to help strengthen them?’

Although Japanese knotweed is often abundant on railway embankments, and, indeed, elsewhere beside railways, the idea that it was deliberately planted in such places is a new one.  Any comments appreciated.

Addendum:  According to the Herb Society’s on-line Autumn Newsletter (September 2021), Japanese knotweed was introduced to Britain in the nineteenth century, ‘when engineers thought it would stabilise and beautify railway embankments’.  It is hoped that extracts from the plant can be used in cancer therapy and to prevent dementia.

Image: Japanese knotweed emerging from an extensive bramble, Rubus fruticosus, patch on Tooting Common, London Borough of Wandsworth, June 2020.

Updated 22 September 2021.

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