Young scientist joins the fight against knotweed in B.C.

Knotweed will not take over British Columbia—that is, if Matthew Strelau, a Trinity Western University biology student, has anything to say about it.

Thanks to a $2,000 grant from the Weed Science Society of America, Strelau will spend this summer studying the effects of Roundup on Bohemian knotweed. He hopes to determine whether knotweed seedlings can develop tolerance or resistance to the herbicide.

Right now, Roundup injections are the best way to eliminate knotweed, but Strelau believes it’s not enough, and he hopes his study will prove it.

According to the Invasive Species Council of British Columbia, there are no bio-control agents available to control knotweed. While mowing and cutting knotweed can be effective, it must be done repeatedly for five years to exhaust the plant’s roots. 

When left alone, knotweed spreads quickly along the banks of streams and other water bodies, easily growing to a height of four metres in only two months. Knotweed roots can grow to three metres deep and 30 metres across.   

“It can also destroy buildings. It causes property values to decrease significantly,” Strelau said. “The B.C. realty community is pushing for an effective knotweed treatment.”

Japanese and giant knotweeds were introduced to North American from East Asia about 100 years ago. The two species thrived and hybridized to create Bohemian knotweed.

It grows aggressively like Japanese knotweed, and it reproduces like giant knotweed over long distances. There are more than 100 variations of Bohemian knotweed, which can accelerate the evolution and adaption of the species.

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