Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese Knotweed) is one unpopular plant. It grows so fast that we, as kids, used to sit and think that we could actually see it growing before our eyes. It's an alien and it's invasive, so when it grows and spreads into huge stands (of huge plants), it crowds out smaller native species. And it's nearly impossible to eradicate, once it gets a foothold. So there is nothing much to like -- we might legitimately call it a "good-for-nothing."
The photos above show the leaves of P. cuspidatum and its unique, not too unattractive fruit. But what on Earth is that bottle of a popular dietary supplement doing here? What is the connection between Resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant and anti-aging compound usually assocated with red wine, and a nasty invasive weed?
The truth is that the knotweed plants have the talent for producing and concentrating resveratrol, primarily in their roots, at a concentration hundreds of times greater than any grape can possibly do. Hence, P. cuspidatum has become the primary commercial source of the supplement. It is certainly easy to grow year-round. Grape vines are seasonal and require lots of tender loving care. So the choice is an easy one.
Conclusion: there is really no such thing as a "good-for-nothing" plant. God has given us all things richly to enjoy." We just have to go looking for the good that exists even in the nastiest and most unpopular among us.
Of course, use, enjoy and misuse are all operative words here. Sinful man can always find ways to misuse even the most useful gifts of God. Maybe even grapes. Enough said--don't get me started on that subject.
Now I'll go pop a couple of Resveratrol capsules--maybe I can save my telomeres yet. (Certainly a subject for another blog post.)
Soli Deo Gloria