This is Japanese Knotweed. If you see it, destroy it. Or eat it.
Foolishly imported by Central Park architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Japanese knotweed is now taking over the Northeast as an extremely hard to eradicate exotic invasive. It's sheer strength and determination makes dandelions look like pansies.
Once you learn to recognize J.k, you won't believe how quickly it's spreading. In a strange twist, it's also quite tasty.
Simply peel and eat raw the tender shoots that pop up this time of year. The flavor is an exact cross between asparagus and rhubarb and it imparts a delightful crunch and tang. Steamed, it loses much of its zip and tends more toward asparagus. In a pie, I'm told it's a dead ringer for rhubarb, and sweeter. A lover of urban areas, make sure your knotweed comes from soil you can trust. But don't worry, because it will soon be in your backyard.
The root structure can push stalks through the tiniest cracks in concrete, extend 7 meters underground, and survive temperatures up to 30 below, so it's now wonder that J.k. is illegal to spread in the UK and on the World Conservation Union's list of the 100 most invasive plants. Whole armies can spread from mere cuttings or fragments of the rhizomes, so if you're going to dig it up, which you should, get it all. See article for more tips on eradication.
Frederick Olmsted: what hasn't he f*cked up?