PONTIC RHODODENDRON

Trout & Salmon (UK) - - Know How | Invasive Species -

What’s the prob­lem? Grow­ing up to 8m in height, Pontic rhododendron is thought to be one of the most dam­ag­ing in­va­sive species in Bri­tain, es­pe­cially on acid soils in western and south­ern re­gions. It was brought to Bri­tain from Spain or Por­tu­gal in 1763, and widely planted on Vic­to­rian es­tates for or­na­men­tal value and cover for game birds. Estab­lished rhodo­den­drons form im­pen­e­tra­ble jun­gles, out-com­pet­ing other plants for space and light. They sup­press sur­round­ing plants by means of phe­no­lic com­pounds in their leaves, which also make them un­palat­able and even poi­sonous to graz­ing an­i­mals like sheep. Few na­tive species sur­vive, and nat­u­ral cy­cles of wood­land and moor­land re­gen­er­a­tion are in­ter­rupted. Pontic rhododendron is also a vec­tor for the sud­den oak death pathogen. Wet­lands and small streams can quickly be over­shaded by feral rhodo­den­drons, with se­ri­ous im­pacts on al­gae, in­sects and fish. Each plant pro­duces many mil­lion seeds, which are eas­ily dis­persed by wind into new ar­eas, and can re­main vi­able in the soil for sev­eral years. As a re­sult, con­trol­ling in­va­sive Pontic rhododendron is likely to re­quire part­ner­ship on a land­scape scale. What you can do Cut each plant man­u­ally or me­chan­i­cally, fol­lowed by dig­ging up and burn­ing the roots Spray any re­growth with glyphosate (near wa­ter, reg­u­la­tory ap­proval is likely to be needed).

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