Japanese Knotweed is a perfect illustration of bioregional herbalism. This invasive plant is one of our primary defenses again Lyme infection—particularly fascinating, as knotweed thickets provide perfect habitat for deer ticks and the white-footed mice they parasitize. Knotweed and Lyme-infected ticks seem to spread together along our riverbanks, a built-in remedy at the heart of the problem. I also love it for cardiovascular and digestive health, and as a powerful antioxidant.
Here in Vermont, Knotweed spread by Tropical Storm Irene has decimated our riverbank ecosystems, but it also provides a powerful remedy against the Lyme epidemic, as well as a delicious spring wild food: this is bioregional herbalism at its heart, allying with the generous, powerful plants around us to address the physical, emotional, and ecological needs of our human and plant community.
Modern people eat only a fraction of the plant species our ancestors thrives on—one of the easiest health-boosts for your diet is to add wild foods to the menu from the bounty outside your door, especially the plentiful invasive species. Eating the delicious Knotweed shoots & making medicine from the roots is good for us & for our wetland plant community, like calamus & cattails.
Right now in Vermont, Knotweed, Dandelion, & Garlic Mustard are plentiful, and Nettles & Sheep Sorrel are just getting started, so it’s the perfect time to start nibbling on the abundant gift of wild bioregional cuisine.
I will sauté these shoots with fresh thyme, chives, lilac salt and butter for a deeply nourishing, immune-boosting side— think tangy-rhubarby asparagus and you’re in the ballpark. The roots will be tinctured later during nap time.
Careful: Knotweed is so aggressively invasive that a tiny rootlet in your compost pile can start a whole new colony—clean shovels & process on site. Do not plant this, no matter how much you think you’ll be able to keep it under control–it’s one of the most aggressive invasive plants in the country.