Six ‘illegal’ plants that could be lurking in your garden – ‘damaging’

Japanese knotweed: Phil Spencer discusses plant

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info

Plants are a wonderful addition to any garden or outdoor space, however not all are considered good for the environment. In fact, some plants are even illegal for gardeners to grow. The Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) recognised the need to control certain species of invasive plants and animals already causing a problem in the UK. Originally only giant hogweed and Japanese knotweed were listed. However, in April 2010 a further 36 invasive plants were added and a further amendment in 2014 banned the sale of five of the worst invasive water plants in the UK.

Experts at Cel Solicitors said: “It is a criminal offence to plant or grow a non-native invasive species listed in the act and this carries penalties of up to £5,000 fine and/or two years imprisonment.” has rounded up some of the “worst offenders” that according to the experts “are so damaging to the environment they’re actually illegal to grow in the UK”.

1. Japanese knotweed 

Japanese knotweed was originally brought to the UK as a decorative plant given its pretty white flowers which bloom in warm spring and summer, however this plant is incredibly invasive.

Despite the fact this plant can only spread by its roots as it doesn’t produce seeds, its root system is strong and fast-growing. 

The experts said: “The plant can devalue properties by up to 20 percent and most money lenders will not lend unless there is an insurance-backed guarantee. 

“Removing the weed is very difficult. Many people try digging out the weed, but if even a small part of the root is left, it can produce an entirely new plant.

“The best route for removal is a chemical spray or, depending on your property value, an excavation. Of course, this treatment is very expensive which is why many opt to get treatment done as part of a legal claim.”

Japanese knotweed is regarded as “controlled waste” under the Environmental Protection Act (Duty of Care) Regulations and should be disposed either by burning or in registered land-fill sites due to how hardy the plant is.

2. Giant hogweed 

Giant hogweed looks similar to an overgrown cow parsley, able to grow 10 feet high. The plant spreads through its seeds, which can be carried by birds and other animals, or along waterways. 

Remove ‘tough’ toilet limescale with 47p ingredient – ‘no scrubbing’ [TIPS]
Coleen Nolan’s quiet life in Cheshire where house prices are £287,000 [INSIGHT]
Energy expert shares ‘simple error’ to avoid when heating your home [EXPERT]

Although not as difficult to control as Japanese knotweed, it still needs a considerable amount of attention to prevent spread.

The experts warned: “The plant’s sap contains toxic chemicals which react with light when in contact with human skin. This causes blistering within 48 hours and means that mowing or weeding the plant yourself without proper equipment is difficult.

“Similar to Japanese knotweed, it is illegal to allow this weed to grow onto neighbouring properties, meaning that you can make a legal claim if it has spread to your land.”

The solicitors also advises listing the help of a removal company to help eradicate the plant permanently from your property as part of the claims process.

3. Himalayan balsam

Himalayan balsam is a relative of the busy Lizzie but reaches well over head height and is a major weed problem, especially on riverbanks and waste land, but can also invade gardens. It grows rapidly and spreads quickly, smothering other vegetation as it goes. It displays pretty pink flowers and as such the plant is often spread by people passing on seeds to friends to use in their gardens. 

The other distribution method is via waterways, in which the seed can remain viable for two years. With each plant producing over 800 seeds every year, this means huge potential growth.

4. New Zealand pygmyweed

This invasive species grows primarily in water, or soil with a heavy water content next to lakes and streams. The experts noted: “Due to the dense matting it creates on the surface of ponds, it can reduce the oxygen available to fish and frogs, making garden ponds virtually uninhabitable. The plant grows so densely, it is often confused for dry land making it particularly dangerous to children and pets.”

Even in winter the plant does not die, meaning its mass grows exponentially year on year making it difficult to manage. However, despite this, this plant is generally found to be more widespread in the south east and north west of England.

5. Three-cornered garlic

This plant was brought to the UK in the 18th century from the Mediterranean. According to the pros, this plant is regarded as invasive as its pendant white flowers have large seeds which are attractive to ants. 

They said: “The ants act as a distribution and so the plant readily grows in the wild and is found along roadsides banks and verges, hedgerows, woodland edges, field edges and on waste ground. It forms very dense colonies that can outcompete other spring flowers like primroses and violets.”

On some roadside verges and banks it forms dense stands spreading many meters. It is most common in southern and western Britain, but is on the rise and spreading further north.

6. Rhododendron ponticum

Rhododendron was first introduced to the UK in 1763 for use in gardens and today there are few areas of the UK not affected by this invasive plant. Each plant can produce one million or more tiny seeds each year that spread in the wind, and it’s incredibly difficult to remove by digging it up or using herbicides.

The experts said: “The shrub is classified as an invasive weed due to its fast-growing nature which causes damage to woodlands, heaths and meadows. 

“The huge bushes on the plant block out sunlight from plants underneath, smothering most other wild plants and trees and leaving only plants that are able to grow above the rhododendron canopy.” Not only that, its leaves are actually toxic to some animals and it carries diseases that are fatal to native trees.

Source: Read Full Article