The Q&A Archives: Fuzzy Leaf Tall Shrub - ?hydrangea? - ?identification

Question: In the back yard, open to sun all around, is a large plant - 6-8' tall stalks, the new growth on this plant is almost all on new shoots arising from ground level or just above the ground. the old stalks are hollow, like bamboo. the stalk is light bown, with lighter brown speckles on. the leaves are fuzzy, like african violets, but large, elongated, and leave a very slight sensation of a residue on the fingers when I press the leaves. There are not yet any flowers. The homeowner (has only been in the house one fall, and one winter, so does not know what the blossoms look like, if any) says that the "tree" dies almost completely in the winter (we are in southwestern ontario, zome 6), that about half the stalks break off, over the winter and that the "tree" looks quite dead and ugly over winter. There are small round "berries" or seed pods at the tips of two of the old branches, 1/4" diameter, light brown/tan colour, slightly fuzzy, on small, fine branchlets from the tip of the stalk. The new growing branches are about 1" diameter at the main stem, and taper but are about 4' long right now. I have a tentative identification of hydrangea, but have not been able to find any illustration of a hydrangea that looks like this, or refers to the fuzzyness of these leaves. Is hydrangea likely? If so, Can you direct me to an illustration? I have never heard of such a large hydrangea!

thanks in advance for all your help.

Answer: Your description of the bamboo likeness makes me think it may be Japanese Knotweed or Polygonum cuspidatum. There is a photo of it at:

and a description of it at:

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