MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A western Wisconsin county is taking action to get rid of an invasive species overtaking parts of town.

Giant knotweed is found from Minnesota to Maine, and south to Louisiana. The plant spreads quickly, and grows fast.

“It used to be just like nice green grass. It’s creeping this way here by the cucumber plants, the tomato plants,” Glen Olson Jr. explained. “It just keeps creeping over.”

Olson has grown accustomed to seeing the giant knotweed grow in front of his home, but that doesn’t mean he likes it.

“I tolerate it for now,” he said.

St. Croix County invasive species technician Ben Eichen wants to rid Hudson of the pesky problem.

“It really takes over an area and crowds everything out, including your native plants, which affects wildlife and the whole ecosystem,” Eichen said.

The ornamental plant came from Asia in the 1800s and escaped captivity. Eichen said it’s now “kind of on the loose.” He said the most effective way to stop the knotweed from spreading is to start by cutting it at its stem base.

“Just cut it at the ground and go from there. And then it grows so fast, in about a month or so it’ll already be two or three feet again. And at that point, we take a selective herbicide and we spray the whole forest,” Eichen said.

The bamboo-like branches spill over the wall in some spots and have been known to grow into the street in other areas.

Olson hopes the county’s latest effort will give him his view back.

“It’s something you’ve just got to put up with until they come up with a cure,” Olson said.

On Thursday afternoon, Eichman and a team of volunteers cut down the knotweed in several areas around Hudson. Next, they’ll spray the areas with herbicide in August.

Eichen hopes doing this several times over the next two years will kill the weed and stop the growth.

Jennifer Mayerle

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