Does Japanese knotweed look like rhubarb?

Answered by John Hunt

Japanese knotweed does share some similarities in appearance with rhubarb, but there are also noticeable differences that can help distinguish between the two.

Firstly, both Japanese knotweed and rhubarb have large, broad leaves that are similar in shape. However, the leaves of Japanese knotweed are typically heart-shaped or shield-shaped, while rhubarb leaves are usually more rounded with a distinct notch at the base. Additionally, the leaves of Japanese knotweed are arranged alternately along the stem, whereas rhubarb leaves are typically arranged in a rosette formation.

In terms of stem appearance, both Japanese knotweed and rhubarb have thick, sturdy stems. However, the stems of Japanese knotweed are typically hollow and bamboo-like, with distinct nodes or joints along the length. On the other hand, rhubarb stems are solid and do not have noticeable joints.

When it comes to color, Japanese knotweed stems are usually reddish or purple in color, particularly in the early spring when they first emerge. As the plant matures, the stems may turn green but still retain a reddish hue at the base. In contrast, rhubarb stems are typically a brighter shade of red or pink.

Another distinguishing feature is the growth habit of the two plants. Japanese knotweed is notorious for its rapid and aggressive growth, often forming dense thickets that can crowd out other vegetation. Rhubarb, on the other hand, is typically cultivated as a garden vegetable and is not known for its invasive tendencies.

It’s worth noting that while Japanese knotweed shoots can resemble rhubarb, it is important to exercise caution when identifying plants. If you are unsure, it is always best to consult a local expert or reference guide to ensure accurate identification.

While Japanese knotweed and rhubarb may share some visual similarities, there are distinct differences in leaf shape, stem structure, color, and growth habit that can help differentiate between the two.