Knotweed: The Invasive Species

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This is how most people feel when trying to remove Knotweed from a vacant city lot.

Just like human communities, ecosystems are stronger when they are more diverse. Invasive plants are those that threaten the diversity of an ecosystem by upping competition for habitat and making life more difficult for other species. 

So, you may be wondering, “What’s your point, and how does it relate to GTECH?”.

Enter Pittsburgh’s vacant lots – all 27,000 of them. Vacant lots are an ideal habitat for invasive plants. When a house is demolished, the soil where that house sat lays bare. That bare soil is an easy place for invasive plants to grow because there isn’t much competition from native plants. One of the invasive plants often found on vacant lots in Pittsburgh is Japanese Knotweed.

GTECH is currently piloting a trial project that explores a few creative reuses of Japanese Knotweed (or Fallopia japonica if you are fancy). Although it is organic matter, this invasive plant cannot be composted because it will grow and spread wherever that compost goes next. Instead, it is removed, stored in plastic bags (to prevent rooting) and ends up in a landfill.

With the Knots on Lots project we will explore creative, productive uses for this very vengeful vegetation alongside community members. Working with residents and experts, we’ll make biochar and recycled paper using Knotweed as a feedstock for both.

As spring is finally upon us, you or others in your neighborhood may be cleaning up yards and gardens. If you don’t know what to do with the dried stalks of last year’s Knotweed, GTECH would love to take them off of your hands.

Gathering dried Knotweed from Garfiel farms.
Gathering dried Knotweed from Garfield Community Farms.

We will come pick them up from your cleanup location for our new and exciting Knot on Lots project.  Email Megan, our ReClaim Director.

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