Himalayan Knotweed

 

Himalayan Knotweed in flower

Himalayan knotweed (Persicaria wallichii) has slender, elongated leaves, and is closely related, and is often mistaken for Lesser knotweed (and occasionally for Himalayan balsam).  Native of the Himalayan region, it is one of the least common knotweeds in the UK.  It grows quickly to a height of up to 1.8m (6 feet).

Stems are usually green (though leaf stems can contain the distinctive knotweed pink) and have the characteristic ‘zig zag’ from node to node.  Stems are hairy, and a key identifier of the plant is the brown sheaths that persist at the bases of the leaf stalks.

Himalayan Knotweed stem.jpgThe dark green, alternate, leathery leaves are 10-20cm long (4-8 inches), tapered to a point.  Short hairs can often be found on the veins, edges and undersides.  Leaf shapes can differ within the species, with leaf bases varying from tapering to the leaf stem to developing a slight heart-shaped lip. 

White or pale pink flowers bloom from mid summer to late autumn and occur in loose, branched clusters around 20-35cm (8-14 inches) long.  Flowers are hermaphrodite (ie contain both male and female parts).  Himalayan knotweed is most commonly found in moist soils and poses a significant ecological threat to riparian areas where it can survive flooding and quickly colonise scoured shores and islands when the flood waters recede.