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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - September 06, 2012

From: West Grove, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: General Botany, Poisonous Plants, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Is Bushy Knotweed carcinogenic from West Grove PA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Is the invasive Bushy Knotweed / PORA3 / Polygonum ramosissimum toxic to the extent that the spores are carcinogenic?

ANSWER:

Polygonum ramosissimum (Bushy knotweed) is native to and invasive in just about all of North America. We could find no evidence of its being toxic. If you follow that plant link you will see that we have very little information on the plant and no pictures. From the University of Wisconsin Plants of Wisconsin, here is a page with a picture and a little more information. From Flora of North America, here is a more scholarly discussion of the plant. Another article from the University of Michigan.

From the Nova Scotia Museum, we found an article The Poison Plant Patch. If you scroll down that page, you will find a list of carcinogens and co-carcinogens. None of them was Bushy Knotweed.

Since we were not having much luck getting information on that species of the Polygonum species, we found a non-native Polyganum avicular, that would not be in our Native Plant Database. It had some more information on medical uses of species of this genus. We thought that might be why you were interested in the toxicity of this one.

We tried once more to determine carcinogenic qualities of the plant. We searched on the genus name, Polygonum, and found this article on Medical Attributes of Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese knotweed), which may give you some more clues for your research. Otherwise, we found no indication that the North American native Polygonum ramosissimum (Bushy knotweed) had either toxic nor carcinogenic characteristics.

 

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