Bring in the Japanese knotweed dog-tectives! National Highways enlists the help of three pups to root out the havoc-wreaking weed and stop it spreading along the M25

  • Japanese knotweed damages buildings and construction sites if left unchecked
  • National Highways has enlisted three dogs to sniff out the weed on the M25 

It has been growing uncontrollably across Britain since being introduced nearly 200 years ago.

But now National Highways has revealed a new force in the fight against Japanese knotweed – man’s best friend.

Three adorable dogs have been enlisted to root out the havoc-wreaking weed and stop it spreading along the M25.

‘We decided to put our paws on the pavement and take a unique approach to tackling the Japanese knotweed,’ said Pippa Jordan, an Environment Lead with National Highways.

‘These sniffer dogs are not only adorable, but also incredibly skilled at detecting the presence of unwanted plants, especially those not readily visible.’

It has been growing uncontrollably across Britain since being introduced nearly 200 years ago. But now National Highways has revealed a new force in the fight against Japanese knotweed – man’s best friend

Three adorable dogs have been enlisted to root out the havoc-wreaking weed and stop it spreading along the M25

Japanese Knotweed is a species of plant that has bamboo-like stems and small white flowers.

Native to Japan, the plant is considered an invasive species, and was brought to Britain by the Victorians as an ornamental garden plant and to line railway tracks to stabilise the soil.

Despite looking pretty, Japanese knotweed can seriously damage buildings and construction sites if left unchecked.

In an effort to prevent its spread on the M25 junction 10 upgrade, National Highways has enlisted the help of three dogs – Fenix the Dutch Shepherd, and Spaniels Nica and Nettled.

The dogs are trained to sniff out rhizomes – the underground parts of the plant such as roots, bulbs, and shoots.

‘Conservation plays an important role in our construction projects,’ Ms Jordan explained.

‘Before we start, we create a map of the area which shows nearby plant species allowing us to tackle any invasive species growing on the construction site.’

When the dogs detect Japanese knotweed, they freeze in their place. This not only alerts their handler to their discovery, but also allows National Highways to take action to eradicate the weed

During their analysis of the site, the dogs discovered several areas where rhizomes were located underground

When the dogs detect Japanese knotweed, they freeze in their place.

This not only alerts their handler to their discovery, but also allows National Highways to take action to eradicate the weed.

‘The dogs have got the most amazing sense of smell, and they can pick up the scent that Japanese knotweed rhizome gives off into the soil,’ said Kat Janczur, the owner and handler at Canine Detection Solutions.

‘They’re amazing animals and a great tool in efforts to prevent the spread of these invasive plants on and around the site.’

During their analysis of the site, the dogs discovered several areas where rhizomes were located underground.

National Highways has now removed these rhizomes, ensuring they don’t sprout any Japanese knotweed any time soon.

JAPANESE KNOTWEED HAS BAMBOO-LIKE STEMS AND SMALL WHITE FLOWERS

Japanese Knotweed is a species of plant that has bamboo-like stems and small white flowers.

Native to Japan, it is considered an invasive species. 

The plant, scientific name Fallopia japonica, was brought to Britain by the Victorians as an ornamental garden plant and to line railway tracks to stabilise the soil.

It has no natural enemies in the UK, whereas in Asia it is controlled by fungus and insects.

In the US it is scheduled as an invasive weed in 12 states, and can be found in a further 29.

It is incredibly durable and fast-growing, and can seriously damage buildings and construction sites if left unchecked.

The weed strangles other plants and can kill entire gardens. 

Capable of growing eight inches in one day, it deprives other plants of their key nutrients and water. 

source: dailymail.co.uk