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Sunday, 10 February, 2002, 17:33 GMT
Eden 'weeds out' invasive plant
Japanese knotweed
The Japanese knotweed can grow an inch a day
The multi-environment Eden project in Cornwall has begun research on ways to tackle the UK's most invasive plant.

Japanese knotweed, introduced to the UK in the mid-19th Century, has the ability to grow an inch a day, causing havoc nationwide.

It can crack concrete, blight development land and crowd out native species.

The plant's massive root system can penetrate 15 feet into the ground, and new ones can grow from tiny fragments.

Controlled environment

Studies into the superweed are being carried out at Eden by Camborne School of Mines scientist, Dr Loveday Jenkin.

Camborne School of Mines belongs to the Cornwall Knotweed Forum, set up to tackle the knotweed menace, which also includes the county and district councils, the Environment Agency, the National Trust and Railtrack.

A number of knotweed plants are now being grown at the Eden nursery in carefully controlled circumstances for research purposes.

The research will include looking at what happens to the plant's root systems when above ground growth is controlled.

Dr Jenkin said: "There is a suggestion that when you treat above ground material you stimulate below ground material and it may encourage new growth."

She added that the only safe way to eradicate the plant was to remove or sterilise all below ground material.

Dr Jenkin will be talking about her research when the Cornish forum meets on Tuesday to discuss new ways of attacking the weed.

Meanwhile a team of UK scientists is researching biological control of knotweed with fungus and a species of beetle which keeps the plant to a manageable size in its native Japan.



See also:

15 Mar 01 | Sci/Tech
UK's hi-tech 'Garden of Eden'
22 Oct 99 | Sci/Tech
Beetles could battle super-weed
11 Jun 98 | UK
Aliens invade UK rivers
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