sweet weeds

japanese knotweed
japanese knotweed

There are very few empty lots, roadsides or poorly kept yards that don’t have Japanese knotweed growing in them. This weed is one of the most powerful invasive species in the U.S. and it’s incredibly difficult to get rid of. It’s a tough weed all the way around. Its roots will grow under your sidewalk and in no time a large bush, bamboo like, will over take what once was a slab of concrete.

My wife hates this stuff with a passion. For years I’ve been telling her that a plant this strong and resilient must have some redeeming qualities. And it does: I found out that Japanese knotweed is an excellent source of resveratrol and emodin, both used for nutritional supplements and medicine.

But I was really interested to discover that bees love the nectar of the Japanese knotweed flowers. It makes a delicious monofloral honey called “bamboo honey.” This honey is like a dark, mild-flavored version of buckwheat honey and reveals a dark red color when held to the light. Joe Zgurzynski from Burgh Bees tells me that the dark honeys tend to be higher in antioxidants than light honeys, the same way red wines are higher in antioxidants than white wines. Bamboo honey is readily available from local beekeepers in this region in the fall. I haven’t had any of this honey yet, but I’m really looking forward to trying this local treat.

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