Move over, Asian Carp. There’s a new invasive species finding its way onto dinner plates across the city.
Writing for the Wall Street Journal, Tyler J. Kelley explores the novel ways Pittsburgh is dealing with the invasive knotweed plant.
Native to Japan and East Asia, Japanese knotweed is a hardy, fast-growing plant that can be extremely difficult to eradicate. Its roots can extend up to 10 feet deep, and it can grow upwards of 6 feet a month, blocking sunlight to other plants until eventually only knotweed remains.
“It’s going to thrive anywhere where you don’t have routine maintenance, which is most places,” says Art Gover, head of the Wildland Weed Management program at Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences.
Fortunately for native plants, knotweed can be quite delicious to humans.
At Six Penn, knotweed shoots are diced and sauteed with mushrooms, then served over scallops with celery root purée.
“It tastes the way a lemon smells when you squeeze it,” says Kevin Hermann, executive chef at Six Penn.
In Garfield, at Healcrest Urban Farm, strawberry knotweed ice pops cost $3-$4 apiece. At Apoidea Apiary, knotweed honey runs about $12, while Wild Purveyors sells knotweed for $8 a pound.
According to the article and accompanying video, knotweed tastes like rhubarb, is high in vitamin C and a major source of the antioxidant resveratrol. But before you start accompanying your meals with a side of sauteed knotweed, be warned that the plant absorbs whatever is in the ground, including lead and other toxins. (Wild Purveyors drives to Blairsville for their knotweed.)
The author ends the article on a sobering note, declaring that the plant is simply too prolific to be managed through human consumption alone. “Who needs thousands of acres of garnish?” asks Mr. Gover, head of Penn State’s Wildland Weed Management program.
You can read the full article, Pittsburgh Tries to Eat Its Way Through a Savage Weed, on the WSJ website.