Plants that look like Japanese Knotweed

Including Bindweed, Himalayan Balsam, Bamboo, Russian Vine and more

An infestation of Japanese Knotweed on your property, whether it’s your home or business, can cause a lot of damage and potentially be very expensive to remove. The best thing to do is contact Japanese Knotweed Specialists, as soon as you think you have identified the troublesome weed.

In the UK, there are a number of other plants which are often confused with Japanese Knotweed. We’ve put together a list of the main offenders to help you identify a real knotweed invasion.

If you’re still not sure, send us a photo of the suspicious weed, and we’ll get back to you free of charge with no obligation to tell you if it’s knotweed or not.

See information, the differences in each plant and images below of:

  • Bindweed
  • Himalayan Balsam
  • Bamboo
  • Broad-leaved Dock
  • Himalayan Knotweed
  • Himalayan Honeysuckle
  • Russian Vine
  • Lilac and Woody Shrubs

Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis)

How Bindweed looks similar to Japanese Knotweed

With its heart-shaped leaves, Bindweed may look similar to Japanese Knotweed. The leaves of Bindweed also alternate along the stem and, much like knotweed, when it appears in spring, Bindweed can cover a large area very quickly.

How you can tell the difference between Bindweed and Knotweed

As its name suggests, Bindweed is a climbing plant that grows by twisting around the stems of other erect standing plants; it is unable to support itself and grow straight up as Knotweed does.

You will also notice large, pink or white, trumpet flowers start to grow in early summer, which distinguishes it from Japanese Knotweed.

How to get rid of Bindweed

Since it grapples on to other plants in your garden, Bindweed can be difficult to eliminate with herbicides. If you don’t want to damage the other plants, you can apply a spot weedkiller to the leaves which will be absorbed. Also, by cutting the plant down to ground level, it will have to use up its energy reserves in its roots, which will eventually kill it.

Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens Glandulifera)

How Himalayan Balsam looks similar to Japanese Knotweed

Just like Japanese Knotweed, Himalayan Balsam is a fast grower; it can quickly cover a large area and grow as tall as 2.5 metres. And like Japanese Knotweed, it also has a hollow stem.

How you can tell the difference between Balsam and Knotweed

Take a look at the stem and you will see the leaves grow opposite each other rather than in an alternating pattern like Japanese Knotweed does. The leaves themselves are also much longer and thinner too, with a pink midrib.

Watch out for the large, pink, hooded and lipped flowers which will form in mid to late summer.

How to get rid of Himalayan Balsam

Unlike Japanese Knotweed, Himalayan Balsam propagates via seeds, which will explode upon touch when ready. Cutting the plants down to ground level can stall their progress, but by sure to plan your attack for the end of June; too late and you risk spreading the seeds, too early and you risk precipitating a regrowth of new stems.


How Bamboo looks similar to Japanese Knotweed

Clear nodes on it stems and the fact that it can easily grow as tall as knotweed, if not higher, means the two are easily confused.

How you can tell the difference between Bamboo and Knotweed

Take a look at the leaves, those of bamboo are much longer and thinner, also the stem is much harder, you won’t be able to snap it with your fingers very easily.

How to get rid of Bamboo

Bamboo roots grow very close to the surface, so smaller infestations can probably be pulled up by hand, just make sure to get all the rhizomes to avoid a regrowth. For larger infestations, cut the stems close to the ground and pour Roundup herbicide down the hollow shoots. You can keep bamboo contained in your garden by using root barriers.

Broad-leaved Dock (Rumex obtusifolius)

How Broad-leaved dock looks similar to Japanese Knotweed

Part of the same family, so hardly surprising that it looks similar to knotweed, Broadleaved Dock has leaves arranged alternately along the stem as well. Its flowers and stems also form spikes just like knotweed.

How you can tell the difference

Stems are fluted and shorter than knotweed plants, growing up to 1m in height. The stems are not completely hollow and contain a foam-like substance when snapped open.

How to get rid of Broad-leaved Dock

Roundup herbicide should do the trick if you don’t mind using herbicides in your garden, otherwise, you could try boiling water or vinegar. If you decide to dig it up, you’re going to need to go down three feet to get every last trace of root out and avoid a regrowth.

Himalayan Knotweed (Persicaria wallichii)

How Himalayan looks similar to Japanese Knotweed

With a very similar stem to Japanese Knotweed, it can easily be mistaken when not in bloom. You’ll also find that it has a hollow stem-like knotweed and that the leaves are alternately arranged along the stem too.

How you can tell the difference between Himalayan and Japanese Knotweed

You can easily tell the difference by the leaves, which on the Himalayan Knotweed are very narrow, often half as wide as they are long. On closer inspection, you’ll also note that the stem is much thinner, growing to around 1cm in diameter.

The flowers on Himalayan Knotweed have a pink hue, which distinguishes them from the pure white of Japanese Knotweed’s.

How to get rid of Himalayan Knotweed

Himalayan Knotweed originated in Western Asia, but it is just as pernicious as its Japanese cousin, and you should call Japanese Knotweed Specialists as soon as you have identified it to arrange a herbicidal or excavation removal process.

Himalayan Honeysuckle (Leycesteria formosa)

How Himalayan Honeysuckle looks similar to Japanese Knotweed

Himalayan Honeysuckle has hollow stems which can look a lot like knotweed and can also be broken fairly easily.

How you can tell the difference

The leaves growing opposite each other along the stem distinguishes it from knotweed, as do the pale green stems with no purple speckles. It becomes easier to identify in late summer when its distinct drooping white flowers sprout from pendulous racemes.

What to do about Himalayan Honeysuckle

Cutting it right down to the ground and painting over the stump should do the trick, or you could also apply a herbicide. To prevent a regrowth, be sure to replant with other plants.

Russian Vine (Fallopia baldschuanica)

How Russian Vine looks similar to Japanese Knotweed

Also a fast growing plant, Russian Vine sprouts leaves and flowers which can appear very similar to Japanese Knotweed.

How you can tell the difference between Russian Vine and Japanese Knotweed

Unlike Japanese Knotweed, Russian Vine is a climbing plant and relies on the erect stems of other plants or solid structures to twist around and grow up.

How to get rid of Russian Vine

Locate the trunk, saw through it and paint poison on the stump which will then be absorbed. You can also use herbicide by stuffing as much of the plant as you can into a plastic bag and spraying liberally with glyphosate, then tie up the neck of the bag securely and leave.

Lilac and woody shrubs etc…

How it looks similar to Japanese Knotweed

The leaf shape of many woody shrubs like lilac can look similar to Japanese Knotweed.

How can you tell the difference?

The stems of Japanese Knotweed are not wood at all, so you can rule out anything with bark or twigs that show solid wood when snapped.

What does Japanese Knotweed look like?

For a good look at what Japanese Knotweed really looks like, take a look at our Japanese Knotweed photo gallery. If you think you may have Japanese Knotweed on your premises, contact Japanese Knotweed Specialists or give us a call on 0800 122 3326.

Upload a photo of your suspected Japanese Knotweed and we’ll give you a free assessment!


Our house purchase was held up when we were refused a mortgage at the valuation stage, when a survey commissioned by the bank showed that Japanese Knotweed could be present on the property. This really slowed down the process. It feels like an unreasonable extra expense and an unnecessary cost. Thankfully, Japanese Knotweed Specialists charged a very reasonable fee to carry out a Japanese Knotweed survey to find there was in fact no trace of the weed on the property, so the sale could go ahead. Thank you Japanese Knotweed Specialists. Property developer Peri, London
We recently purchased a property in the Bromley area. The initial mortgage valuation survey reported the presence of Japanese Knotweed growing on the railway embankment at the end of the garden. The mortgage lender advised that before they would consider approving our mortgage application, we would need to hire a JK specialist to inspect the growth and provide a detailed report on the findings. We duly approached Japanese Knotweed Specialists and Adam came round to carry out a survey. Thanks to his full and detailed report on the Knotweed, our lender was satisfied and (subject to a treatment programme being implemented) approved our application and we were able to proceed with the purchase. Japanese Knotweed Specialists have now commenced their 1st treatment to eradicate the JK and their service is always friendly and helpful. Mr Winsor, Bromley
Many thanks for such a speedy turnaround of this report. As I said yesterday, this has been an extremely worrying time for us, but the efficiency, professionalism and helpfulness shown by you and Tanya has been second to none, and has made a difficult situation that bit easier to handle. Arleen, Derby

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