GroundZero Action Network (GZAN) and 3 Rivers 2nd Nature (3R2N) present an art exhibit entitled “Japanese Knotweed at the skinny building” in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh. The upper two stories will display potted Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum) for two months, from mid-August through mid-September. The skinny building will be transformed into a greenhouse where knotweed will be presented through 22 large picture windows. As part of a larger “Knotweed Project,” the exhibit at the skinnybuilding will be complemented by several other events and activities taking place from April through August 2004.
In western Pennsylvania, Japanese knotweed is considered an “invasive” plant species, originally introduced to the United States from Asia as an ornamental landscaping species in the early 19th century. Knotweed grows well in moist, shady areas, but it also grows in sunny, dry sites and has aggressively spread throughout Allegheny County. According to the 3R2N biodiversity study, Knotweed occupies 6% of stream banks in the Pittsburgh Pool and 8% of stream banks in Allegheny County, sharing space with approximately 80 species of woody plants. Its’ size and quantity threatens the habitat of other native species.
The Knotweed Project will raise awareness and provoke dialogue about the plant and its impact on the region. An introduced species with an incredible ability to flourish in disturbed earth. As our region recovers from industrial spoilage, the knotweed can serve as a potentially ripe metaphor. Knotweed is pervasive in Pittsburgh, yet few people have heard of the plant or could successfully identify it. Knotweed is likely to be a permanent part of the ongoing transformation of western Pennsylvania’s “natural” environment.