It is renowned as the most invasive and destructive plant in the UK. However, one inventive family are putting Japanese Knotweed to good use by adding the delicacy to their lockdown menu.

Daniel Brooks, 49, a self-employed gardener/handyman, is foraging with his family as part of their daily

exercise walk.

Mr Brooks turned his foraging hobby into a mission to supplement the family food stores when work opportunities slowed along due to the spread of Covid-19.

Now the latest treat for the family, who live in Oban, is a crumble made from the young shoots of the Japanese Knotweed plant which, while harmful to vegetation and property, is not poisonous to humans.

Mr Brooks, who is accompanied on his daily outings by wife Deborah, 41, and their children, Oliver, 12, Hazel, 8, Heather Blue, five and 11-month-old baby Oak, said: “We are learning all the time. There is so much to know and

I am always seeing things outside and looking them up when we come home.

“We are experimenting with things and one thing we foraged recently was Japanese Knotweed. We made a crumble out of it and it was one of the most yummy crumbles I have had in my life. If you put things like sultanas and dates in, it complements the young shoots in Japanese Knotweed.

“For breakfast today we had raw nettle smoothie. Nettles are considered one of the most nutritious plants on earth and when you add things to it, you have got a super nutritious drink.”

He has found that skunk cabbage, another invasive plant that people usually want to get rid of, has medicinal properties and Mr Brooks said: “Coltsfoot, a little dandelion type plant, is also good for respiratory problems. We have jars of dried coltsfoot flowers and are making it into a drink we have during the day.

“We are getting cockles and mussels as well. It’s amazing what there is and how much we have forgotten about. When you live by the sea it’s so abundant. Cockles, mussels, limpets and seaweed, I have started experimenting with limpet chowder.”

The older children are well versed in what is okay to eat in the wild and nibble on edible plants and flower heads as they walk.

Although foraging has become more of a necessity than a hobby in the present financial climate, Mr Brooks believes natural food is much better for his family.

He said: “People are missing a trick here because we are going to the supermarket and buying foods that are not good for us.

“Millions of children are being fed all sorts of rubbish, things that are causing problems, with things such as diabetes increasing. The stuff people are putting in their bodies is a huge problem.”

The family lived in Tuscany, Italy,

for eight years before moving back to Oban, where Mr Brooks’ mother lives, last Christmas.

They rented a house, but had scarcely moved in before life in the UK changed completely, as coronavirus took hold.

The family are grateful for the help they are getting from family and friends, but they have proved before they can brave tough times. They featured in the Channel 4 programme Our Wildest Dreams a few years ago after taking up the challenge of building a home from scratch in the jungle in Bali.

Mr Brooks said: “I saw an advert on Facebook. They were looking for a family who wanted to go and live a wild life, so we went for six months.

“I found an expat group from Bali on Facebook and got the use of land on an old coffee plantation. It was massively overgrown, the plants were 20-30ft high, it was a complete jungle.

“We used coffee plant wood, which is super strong, like concrete, and we built a house on stilts, using the existing stumps of the coffee plants.

“We built a little thatched place using bamboo but we were sleeping in tents most of the time as there was torrential rain for three months, so all my time was focused on trying to build a shelter for my family.

“We were foraging there, that was the idea, that we would do that and grow our own veg but it wasn’t actually doable, mainly because of the shocking weather.

“I didn’t have information about what was okay to eat so it was really difficult, I was going out with some of the local guys, but they were difficult

to understand. We even got slight poisoning because we were told something was good, but that was only if you prepared it a certain way and we didn’t know that.”

Now back in Scotland he is consulting books to make sure he knows exactly what is safe to forage and eat.