top of page

Japanese Knotweed

The invasive weed you don't need...but tastes pretty good so why not?

Japanese Knotweed Long Beach Island NJ
Japanese Knotweed

Japanese Knotweed is an invasive plant that reached the plant world equivalent of an FBI’s most wanted list.  This stuff grows everywhere, all over the United States and abroad and it seems to me like it's one of those plants that's nearly impossible to stop.  Home and professional gardeners hate the stuff too but the weed seems to be creeping its way onto restaurant menus more frequently.  The plant grows extensively throughout North America because I've seen it in all over the east coast as well as the desert mountain west and is of moderate culinary value but for me, its spring’s first sign of life.  You know every March or April, when those first shoots start popping through the earth it's time to get your butt in gear and get the garden beds clean and those seeds planted and germinating.  Knotweed is extremely fibrous when it gets big so it is best to pick young shoots very early in the year, just as they start peaking through the thawing crust of the earth (think like 8-10 inches in height).  The flavor is reminiscent of rhubarb but with much more earthly umami qualities and often times tastes like the last rain for better or worse.  You can feel good about killing entire fields of this plant though and eating every last drop because it's highly intrusive known to destroy entire habitats.  It can be eaten raw and cooked and always tastes better when peeled in my opinion.

Japanese knotweed will change the culinary landscape! –Nobody, Ever

I like to use knotweed in applications where I would use rhubarb, however admiringly the color will be less striking. The lemony flavor of knotweed likes to be served mostly in savory applications though, my favorite being lightly blanched as a vegetable and seasoned with butter and salt or served quickly pickled in a salad with other spring vegetables like peas, rhubarb, celery, or fennel. The recipe for the following salad does just that and takes a few simple spring ingredients and makes it into an interesting Spring salad.

Japanese Knotweed and Spring Vegetable Pickle Salad

(serves 4)


  • 6 each young Japanese knotweed stalks, peeled

  • 2 each rhubarb stalks, cut diagonally on a bias

  • 1 cup red wine vinegar

  • 0.5 cup white granulated sugar

  • 1.5 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1 bulb fennel, very thinly shaved

  • 8 each strawberries, cut into quarters

  • 4 each celery stalks, cut very thinly on a diagonal bias

  • extra virgin olive oil for finishing


  1. Cut your peeled Japanese Knotweed and rhubarb very thinly on a bias, using your best possible knife skills to ensure everything is uniform and pickles evenly. Place sliced vegetables in a mason jar with the lid off.

  2. Bring red wine vinegar, granulated sugar and kosher salt to a boil in small sauce pan and stir until all salt and sugar particles are dissolved.

  3. Pour hot pickling liquid over the cut rhubarb and Japanese knotweed in the jar and let set out at room temperature until cool. Cover and put into refrigerator until ready.

  4. Toss fennel, strawberries, celery and any greens you want to add as well as the pickled vegetables and 2 TBSP. of the pickling liquid. Add extra virgin olive oil, salt and toss to finish.

  5. Arrange on a platter and finish with some freshly cracked black pepper.

Spring Foraged Salad
Pickled rhubarb, Japanese Knotweed, Celery, Pea Shoots

Pickled Rhubarb


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page