Here in the UK, we have a long list of non-native invasive plant species that cause a myriad of problems. In some parts of the UK, planting, importing, selling or allowing certain invasive species to grow is punishable by up to two years in prison, so it's important that you know your natives from your non-natives before you start planting your flower bed.

When you come across a new plant in your garden, it can be difficult to know if it's an invasive species and (if it is) what you should do about it. Today we're going to take a closer look at some of the most common invasive weeds in the UK to find out a little more about them. Hopefully, this guide will help you identify and eradicate invasive weeds on your property before they have time to do any damage!

Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia Japonica)

Of course, at the top of our list had to be Japanese knotweed. Noted as one of the most widespread and destructive invasive plant species in the UK, Japanese knotweed can find its way into your garden and cause damage to your home in a matter of a few weeks.

One of the main reasons that Japanese knotweed is so difficult to manage is because it's capable of sprouting from small amounts of rhizomes in the soil. Left untreated, you might find yourself with a whole host of structural repair and legal costs! Find out about our Japanese knotweed treatment plans to get this invasive species under control quickly.

 

Giant Hogweed

Giant Hogweed (Heracleum Mantegazzianum)

Second on our list is giant hogweed, an invasive species commonly found here in the UK that originally came from Southern Russia. One thing that people don't know about giant hogweed is that it can actually be harmful to humans. The sap contains chemicals that can cause the skin to blister, so great care needs to be taken when dealing with giant hogweed. 

The giant hogweed is a tall, leafy plant that looks quite similar to cow parsley. It has thick stems and distinctive heads of white flowers which grow up towards the sky. As with Japanese knotweed, it is an offence to purposely grow giant hogweed. Ideally, when you find this invasive weed in your garden, you should seek treatment immediately. If you're touching it yourself, make sure you wear protective gardening gloves and a face mask. 

 

Himalayan Balsam

Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens Glandulifera)

The Himalayan balsam may look like a pretty innocent little flower, but it has a darker side that you might not know about! Each Himalayan balsam plant can disperse nearly 1000 seeds from its explosive pods in the spring/summertime. This makes it a very common invasive plant here in the UK. You'll often see it near to riverbanks where it can quickly grow more than 6ft tall, smothering other plant species and vegetation beneath. 

To treat Himalayan balsam, it is recommended that you pull it up, spray it with weed killer and dispose of it properly. Speak to the Taylor Total Weed Control team if you need advice about invasive plant species disposal. 

 

Horsetail

Horsetail (Equisetum Hyemale) 

This unusual looking plant is horsetail, a non-flowering, evergreen invasive plant that loves wet conditions. As you can see, it has tall green stems that make it look like a waterside grass. However, horsetail isn't a grass species, and rather than spreading see to reproduce it spreads spores. Much like Japanese knotweed, horsetail has creeping rhizomes that can burrow into the ground as deep as 2 metres. This makes this invasive species incredibly challenging to remove completely. 

One of the easiest ways to take control of a horsetail infestation is to make your soil hospitable to other, more desirable plants. Horsetail is invasive, but it's not very tough when it comes to competing with other species. If you can keep the horsetail shoots short and encourage the growth of other plants, they will eventually smother the horsetail. 

 

 Hedge Bindweed

Hedge Bindweed (Calystegia Sepium)

Here we have the hedge bindweed, an aggressive invasive weed that can grow around existing plants and trees, making it very difficult to remove. You can spot hedge bindweed very easily because it has unique white trumpet flowers.

Although this is quite a pretty plant, it causes problems when it chokes out other native plant species. Left untreated, this plan can have a serious impact on the biodiversity of our natural areas. Seek help immediately if you notice this invasive species bothering the other plants in your garden. 

Hopefully, this blog gives you a good idea of some of the invasive plant species you might come across here in the UK. If you see an invasive plant species, especially Japanese knotweed, on your property, give us a call today - 029 2039 7554.

 

You probably already know that Japanese knotweed is a big problem here in the UK. But can this invasive plant species be found all over Great Britain, or is its growth concentrated in specific areas?

Japanese knotweed plant

Photo by dankogreen (Flickr)

According to gardenorganic.org.uk, Japanese knotweed was initially "most prevalent in South Wales, perhaps due to the moist climate, but it is now widespread throughout the UK". As we mentioned in a previous blog post, South Wales is still - to this day - one of the UK's key Japanese knotweed hotspots, alongside cities like London and Bristol.

Japanese Knotweed Removal in South Wales >>

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The term "invasive species" may not sound very threatening, but these invaders, both large and small, can and do have devastating effects on wildlife and communities across the world.

What is an Invasive Species

Invasive species are one of the most threatening problems to native wildlife, with approximately 42% of endangered species at risk as a result of invasive species. Endangered species aren't the only things that are at risk due to invasive species, however, with economies and human health also susceptible to feel the effects. The impact that invasive species have on our natural ecosystems and economy cost billions each and every year, with many of our recreational, agricultural and commercial activities heavily reliant on healthy native ecosystems. 

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Map of Europe

As its name suggests, Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) is native to the Far East. Once upon a time, this plant was to be found only in Japan and neighbouring territories like Korea and China.

Now, as we've previously discussed, Japanese knotweed wasn't - and still isn't - much of a problem in its homeland, simply because the local ecosystem keeps the plant in check.

But at some point, somebody had the bright idea of bringing Japanese knotweed over to Europe, where it was able to run rampant and cause all kinds of problems for us Westerners.

Read More: What Damage Can Japanese Knotweed Do?

This raises the question: just who do we blame for bringing Japanese knotweed to Europe?

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Recently, the Property Care Association (PCA) reviewed the EU Invasive Alien Species Regulations to assess whether there were additional species that should be controlled under legislation. The outcome of this review? 13 new species of plant were added to the list of 'Species of Concern'.

Of these plants, 2 are considered particularly likely to threaten homes in the UK. These are the balloon vine and the tree of heaven. Let's take a look at these invasive species so that you can detect and eradicate them quickly!

Balloon vine

Balloon Vine (Cardiospermum)

Belonging to the soapberry family, balloon vine is a climbing plant that can survive in tropical and sub-tropical conditions, so it's found all over the world. Like Japanese knotweed, this invasive species is capable of invading a garden area quickly, using its tendrils to climb and cling onto walls and surfaces.

The sweet heart-shaped domes of this plant meant that it was often cultivated as an ornamental plant. However, due to its invasive nature, it quickly established itself elsewhere. Balloon vine is already classified as a harmful weed in Australia and South Africa, and while there are no records of it appearing in the UK yet, it is highly possible that it will appear here in the coming years. Why? Because the balloon vine favours dry climates and soils and global warming is creating these ideal living conditions in pastures new!

Tree of heaven

Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus Altissima)

Found in mild conditions, the tree of heaven is a rapidly growing tree species that can reach heights of 49ft (15m) in as little as 15 years! The Tree of Heaven is native in China and Taiwan and has historically been used in herbal remedies and medicines. In the 1740s, the tree of heaven was brought to Europe where gardeners quickly learned to recognise it for its rapidly invasive nature and foul smell!

Like Japanese knotweed, this plant is capable of resprouting quickly when it's cut or damaged, this makes removing it completely incredibly difficult and time-consuming.

Currently, the tree of heaven has been contained to South-East England, but could easily spread across the whole of the country if it's not controlled properly. This devilish plant has earnt itself the ironic nickname "tree of hell".

Taking Action Against Invasive Species

There is an urgent need for coordinated EU efforts to prevent invasive species like the ones outlined above from spreading rapidly. Once an invasive species establishes itself in a country, it can easily move into bordering countries and beyond. One of the main targets of the 2020 Biodiversity Strategy is to improve the identification, prioritisation, control and eradication of invasive species before they have chance to establish in new countries (which explains the review and update of the Species of Concern list).

The Invasive Alien Species Order 2019 led to EU legislation being integrated into UK law on the 1st December 2019. This means we are legally required to help prevent, detect, eradicate and manage the species outlined in the EU Invasive Alien Species Regulations. You can see a full list of species here.

Here at Taylor Total Weed Control, we identify and control a range of invasive species including the infamous Japanese knotweed. If you suspect an invasive species has made its way into your garden, don't hesitate to get in touch for a FREE weed removal consultation.

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