Japanese knotweed is an invasive exotic plant species that is native to Japan, China, Taiwan and Korea. The plant was introduced by Philipp Franz von Siebold to The Netherlands as a garden plant in 1823. The species spread from the Hortus Botanicus botanical gardens in Leiden throughout The Netherlands and Europe. The plant only started to become invasive on a large scale after 1950 by the dumping of garden waste with plant remnants. Today, Japanese knotweed can be found almost everywhere in The Netherlands. The plant is actively controlled, although this is still very difficult to maintain without the use of harsh pesticides.
The plant’s material is not being used, it is burned instead, although it is a strong bamboo like plant that grows incredibly fast. The young shoots can be eaten and taste like rhubarb. Rotterdam chef Pepijn Schmeink found the plant in his vegetable garden and while eradicating the plant, he used the shoots to make a delicious sorbet icecream in his restaurant. He was left with bulks of strong cellulose material and wondered if it could be put to use in applications other than food. He gave me his leftover material to research how to use the plant for textiles.