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Invasive species and how to deal with them


Japanese knotweed is not the only invasive species that can affect homes, offices and properties. There is a whole list that we should be on the lookout for – some you might not even know these are problem plants…

Like Japanese knotweed, giant hogweed and Russian vine are woody, deciduous plants that grow in residential areas, and can get out of hand very quickly. However, these two plants are much more problematic; giant hogweed produces sap that can burn the skin, and Russian vine can grow up to 12 metres high and 4 metres wide – not ideal for neighbouring properties.

Japanese knotweed, giant hogweed and Russian vine

In more rural locations, American (or western) skunk cabbage and floating pennywort spread across woodland areas, causing blockages in drains and waterbodies. Unfortunately, there is no legal obligation to remove these plants, although livelihoods and buildings are being destroyed.

American skunk cabbage and floating pennywort

In wetter climes, some plants are categorised as invasive due to them increasing the risk of flood with their unmonitored growth. Carpet sea squirt came to Europe from Asia with the mass importation of Pacific oysters in the 60s. They grow on hard surfaces underwater and dominate the area – dangerous for pilings of waterside buildings and houseboats.

Similarly, water primrose was brought to Britain as an ornamental plant from central and South America, but has invaded ditches, watercourses and has ruined numerous areas of the world – so much so that it’s now been banned from sale.

Sea squirt, water primrose and ash dieback

These funguses can suppress indigenous species and subsequently wreck ecosystems and habitats of endangered animals and bring disease into our already decreasing green spaces. Ash dieback, for example, has been spread through the UK’s forests due to the increasing appearance of these non-native invasive species that were only brought to the UK for ornamental purposes.

Could you identify these plants, animals and funguses in one of your instructions? These species are becoming more and more commonplace, and it is imperative that we know what we are looking at and how to rectify the situation so our clients, tenants and all involved aren’t affected.

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