Spotted in the Golden Triangle and North City in the unassuming quiet gardens of otherwise beautiful terrace properties - Fallopia japonica. The first buds, all pink and dewy, start to thrust lustily from the beds after the frosts thaw in April and spread tall rhubarb-coloured shoots with spade-shaped leaves all along flower beds. These grow jauntily, at a rate of about six centimetres a week.
The destructive capabilities of the plant the Victorians brought back from Japan because they thought “it looked nice” are legendary. Japanese Knotweed eats through concrete. It can wipe thousands from the value of a house. It destroys mortgage hopes and ruins gardens. Fallopia japonica is comfortably at home on the inhospitable slopes of Japanese volcanoes; so you can imagine how much it is enjoys the warm sunny climes of Norwich.
Luckily, it’s not illegal to have knotweed, just illegal to spread it wantonly.
You can, of course, keep it under control by cutting it back and being exceedingly careful with the dead stems, but that won’t get rid of it. Knotweed is cunning: it can play dead. If the plant suspects it is being poisoned by some back-yard dilettante, it will hunker down for a few seasons and concentrate on growing its root mass below-ground.
Surveyors should pick up the presence given it can have as deleterious an effect on mortgage lenders as structural compromise or terrible damp. However, if someone is really keen for the sale to go ahead they could easily conceal all evidence of the triffid at the bottom of the garden.
The picture here is of the leaf - keep a good look out for it.