Japanese knotweed

Polygonum cuspidatum


Family: Polygonaceae

Other scientific names: Reynoutria japonica, Fallopia japonica

Weed Class: B

Year Listed: 1995

Native to: Asia

Toxic: not known to be

Other Legal Listings: WA Quarantine list, WAC 16-750

additional photos



Why is it a noxious weed?

It is a very aggressive escaped ornamental that is capable of forming dense stands, crowding out all other vegetation and degrading wildlife habitat. It can also create a fire hazard in the dormant season. It is difficult to control once established.

How would I identify it?

General Description: It is a perennial species with spreading rhizomes and numerous reddish-brown, freely branched stems. Plants can reach 4 to 8 feet in height and is often shrubby.

Flower Description: The whitish to whitish-green flowers are in drooping panicles (clusters) from leaf axils. Male and female flowers are on separate plants.

Leaf Description: Leaves are alternately arranged with petioles (stalks) and are 4 to 6 inches long, ovate and have a truncated base and an abrupt tip.

Stem Description: Stems are upright, branching and deciduous.

Fruit/Seed Description: The fruits are approximately 1/8 inch long, shiny brown and triangular.

May be confused with: Knotweed species resemble each other, Japanese knotweed is shorter than Bohemian knotweed or giant knotweed. If you need help with plant identification, please contact your county noxious weed coordinator.

How does it reproduce?

It spreads by seed and by long stout rhizomes. Colonies rarely establish from seed.

Where does it grow?

It is often found in waste places, gardens, roadsides and stream and riverbanks. Please click here to see a county level distribution map of Japanese knotweed in Washington.

How do I control it?

General Control Strategy

Mowing or cutting plant shoots is ineffective alone; however, mowing followed by herbicide treatments will provide some control. Methods must be repeated if infestation is very large. Care must be taken not to produce new plants. All plant material should be removed, dried and burned if possible. New plants can sprout from very small fragments.

Mechanical Control

Grubbing out small clumps when discovered can prevent new colonies from establishing. Rhizomes and fragments left in the ground, or nearby, can regenerate and spread infestations. The entire root system must be removed since re-sprouting can occur from rhizomes.

Biological Control

There are currently no registered biological control agents for use on any of these Polygonum species. Grazing may be an effective strategy to prevent establishment. Any grazing strategy should be carefully controlled to prevent damage in riparian areas.

Herbicide Control

Please refer to the PNW Weed Management Handbook, or contact your county noxious weed coordinator.


For more information

See our Written Findings for more information about Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum).
King County Noxious Weed Control Program: Knotweed Best Management Practices
WSDA Knotweed Control Program
Report on knotweeds from the book "Weed Control in Natural Areas in the Western United States"

Additional Photos



Japanese knotweed stem in flower


Japanese knotweed infestation


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