Folk remedies vs. knotweed

By LINDA DROLLINGER
Posted 10/7/20

NARROWSBURG, NY — Everyone knows that garlic repels vampires and wolfsbane will keep werewolves at bay. But what, if anything, in Mother Nature’s arsenal can stop the insidious spread of …

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Folk remedies vs. knotweed

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NARROWSBURG, NY — Everyone knows that garlic repels vampires and wolfsbane will keep werewolves at bay. But what, if anything, in Mother Nature’s arsenal can stop the insidious spread of Japanese knotweed, the scourge of the Upper Delaware River corridor?

In an October 1 presentation to the Upper Delaware Council (UDC), Steven Schwartz of Friends of the Upper Delaware (FUDR) outlined a 2021 federally funded study designed to study various methods of knotweed control in the Upper Delaware corridor, some previously untried. The study will enlist the aid of citizen scientists, local school students, local farmers, riverside property owners and goats.

Beginning in April 2021, several methods of control will be studied under the supervision of university biologists. Among them will be application of at least one commercially produced herbicide. Marketed under the brand name Rodeo, glyphosate is an aquatic plant herbicide similar in formulation to Roundup, the widely-used lawncare herbicide.

But herbicides can cause collateral damage to other plants and animals, so methods more friendly to the environment will be included in the study. Among the several additional methods proven to control knotweed spread are repeated mechanical cutting, prolonged use of geotextile ground covering, regular harvesting for food and botanical medicines (knotweed has been shown to be effective in treating Lyme disease) and use of domesticated animals for grazing purposes.

All of the above methods will be part of the study, as will be original research conducted by local school science classes. One of the goals of the research will be to determine if the cutting of knotweed stalks and runners actually contributes to the plant’s propagation, or if that is merely a myth. Outreach to citizen scientists of all ages, an essential component of the study, may well produce original methods of knotweed control.

It certainly brought citizen scientist response from UDC members. When goat grazing was mentioned, Damascus representative Steve Adams asked, “What about using pigs? They love to eat roots, and they dig down into the soil to get them. I know a bunch of 4-H members who’d be happy to have their pigs munch on knotweed.” Schwartz admitted that pigs could be one answer, especially when goats grow tired of a steady knotweed diet (after about one month).

“What’s wrong with using a salt and vinegar herbicide solution?” asked Shohola representative Aaron Robinson. “It works on other nuisance plants.”

“We can try it,” said Schwartz.

Anyone interested in participating in the upcoming study should contact Steve Schwartz at FUDR by phone at 570/224-0580 or by email at knotweed@fudr.org.

The evening’s other business included unanimous approval of a letter of commendation for Acting National Park Service Superintendent Darren Boch, whose 120-day detail to the Upper Delaware ended on October 3. Boch said the new superintendent has not yet been selected, but the successful candidate should be announced within a month. In the interim, longtime education specialist Ingrid Peterec will be acting superintendent. Boch also announced that a new Director of Planning has been named. Cody Hendrix of Milton, GA will start work with the Upper Delaware in early November.

UDC Executive Director Laurie Ramie reported that design firm JHA of Honesdale has submitted preliminary plans for a new boat launch at the Ten Mile River access. Ramie also announced that the UDC will begin to establish a social media presence for online resources in addition to its website. The council unanimously approved a social media policy for adoption prior to rollout of social media platforms.

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