Resident still awaits city action on invasive plant

Photo by Sue Suchyta

Photo by Sue Suchyta


Peter Rolando shows what Japanese knotwood shoots look like.

Photo by Sue Suchyta

Photo by Sue Suchyta


The city of Allen Park may not have a law targeting this deep-rooted problem on the books yet, but the state does. And therein rests the problem with Japanese knotweed, a tenacious invasive species. The plant’s deep root system and ability to regenerate after being cut down and dug out concerns the city from a utility and ordinance perspective. The plant has a history of damaging utility pipes and crowding out local vegetation in many places. The item’s a growing concern that just refuses to be cut away until the city gets to the root of the problem. Peter Rolando, a retiree in the 9300 block of Manor, first noticed the plant along the backyard fence line he shares with a neighbor, who had an unusual and tenacious stand of plants last fall. While the neighbor attempted to eradicate the rapidly spreading plant by cutting it down and digging it up, even a small section of root can allow the plant to regenerate.

By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers

ALLEN PARK – A local resident’s unhappiness has rebloomed over a lack of official action on invasive weeds growing in his back yard.

Peter Rolando, who lives in the 9300 block of Manor, said before Tuesday’s City Council meeting that officials still haven’t done anything since he told them about the Japanese knotweed growing from a neighbor’s yard into his.

He approached the City Council seven months ago after noticing his neighbor had an unusual and tenacious plant that regrew rapidly whenever it was cut down, and that spread quickly to neighboring yards through its extensive underground root system.

Japanese knotweed is a giant herbaceous perennial that grows up to 4 inches per day in any type of soil. It forms dense clumps of up to 10 feet in height. Japanese knotweed thrives on disturbance and spreads by natural means and by human activity. Very small pieces of the underground stem — the size of a penny — can allow the plant to regenerate and grow back.

It is capable of causing severe damage below ground. Each group of plants creates a network of roots that grows downward to almost 10 feet deep and 23 feet outward in all directions.

Knotweed has been known to threaten construction and can destroy and even grow through foundations, drains and other underground services.

The plant is resistant to cutting can survive cold of minus-30 degrees Fahrenheit. Its roots are difficult to dig up once they take hold it is very difficult to dig up and can cause the plant to resprout.

Rolando said his neighbor tried to dig it up, but didn’t go deep enough to kill the roots, adding that his research showed that all roots need to be destroyed to eradicate it.

“He did a little digging, but he didn’t go down far enough,” said Rolando. “He has to put something on it to kill the roots.”

Rolando said he talked to Mayor Gary Burtka on April 23 about why there has been no resolution banning the invasive species from the city.

“He said he didn’t have any evidence at this point, that he’d have to check into it,” Rolando said. “He’s had seven months.”

Telephone calls to Burtka’s office were not returned by press time on Friday.

A former ordinance officer had shown interest in getting Japanese knotweed included as a noxious weed and invasive species under city ordinance, but his duties have been shifted because of budget cuts to animal control Officer RuthAnn Kieltyka. She has met with Rolando and promised to look into the situation.

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