September 23, 2015 2:40pm CST
When we were kids, one of favorite haunts was a big open field just beyond our back yard that we called The Jungle. The reason for this is that it was filled each year with what we called bamboo, but which is actually, as I was later to learn, a very invasive plant called Japanese knotweed, or Mexican bamboo. I've attached a link to give you an idea of what it looks like. Basically, the plant is a tall segmented stalk that grows to 9 feet tall and has big heart-shaped leaves. The stalks are thick and hollow, and we used to break them open to drink the water that collected inside. In the fall, the plants produce clumps of white flowers that weigh the branches down. I remember many years later how someone plowed that old field under and tried growing vegetables there. The last time I was there before my mother moved away, I saw the "bamboo" sprouting up amongst the tomatoes and green peppers. Once Japanese knotweed's been established, it's very very difficult to get rid of. I still see it growing everywhere around here, and it reminds me of when I was a kid and could think of no better place to hide!
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• Boston, Massachusetts
24 Sep 15
We used to call it bamboo, too. It grew all along the train tracks of the old Boston & Maine railroad. We played on those tracks a lot. Now they have cut most of it down and have to keep cutting it. There's a patch here by the old depot and every year the town cuts it down and every year it comes back just as thick and jungle-like as before. I love the stuff.