Spy the garden invaders and nip them in the bud
GARDENERS are being urged to spot new invaders – and help uproot a problem before it starts.
The Plant Alert scheme wants to find the new Japanese knotweeds and Himalayan Balsams before they spread – and damage the country.
Run by the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland and Coventry University, the survey is asking for all eyes to be on the lookout for any plant with vigorous growth, prolific self-seeding or longer flowering periods.
Invasive plants are species imported from abroad which become a major problem because they outcompete native species and have no natural predators.
The most notorious example is Japanese knotweed, which was brought here from the Far East byVictorian collectors as an ornamental plant.
It is now described by the Environment Agency as “indisputably the UK’s most aggressive, destructive and invasive plant”. It has spread across the country and eradication requires expertise.
It grows quickly and can damage property because of its ability to grow into concrete and through asphalt and drains. It is thought to affect more than five per cent of UK homes.
Plant Alert’s Dr Katharina Dehnen-Schmutz, pictured, said: “The challenge is to identify possible future invasive plants with potentially high negative impacts, out of the ever-increasing pool of about 70,000 ornamentals available.” Plant Alert already has a list of the top 10 plants so far reported.
Kevin Walker, of the Botanical Society, said: “The most effective way to reduce the impacts of these species is to identify them before they escape into the wild.”
Pictures: FIONA MACFARLANE & GETTY Japanese knotweed, above, can grow into concrete and drains, blighting nearby properties
Threats include Himalayan honeysuckle, above, and the skunkcabbage import, left