It was a mess of pieces, like shattered bones on a battlefield. A macaber sight that seemed to add some extra drama to the story of plant invasion.
In between all the branches and sticks on the frozen floor, new leaves where already sprouting again. With the night temperatures below 0 °C for more than a week, these little green leaves showed Japanese knotweed at its most versatile.
You can fight and weed it as much as you want, it will always come back. When summer will be here, the whole shore of the river Zenne will be filled again with a dense forest of the bamboo-like stems.
The Japanese knotweed, or Fallopia japonica, is a fascinatingly sturdy plant. A centimeter of roots or stem left in the soil is enough to establish again. Against all odds, this invasive species does not depend on impressive seed production. In fact, up till 2008, no fertile male knotweed had ever been observed in the area.
With the needle-like pattern created by the over-night frost, even this bonefield started to look beautiful. Yet that did not take away the poverty of a big patch of knotweed: a monoculture, with virtually no animals that can live in it. A living battlefield, if you want.