The UK is home to a wide variety of native plants and wildflowers that require special protection to preserve the rich biodiversity that we have here. As well as Japanese knotweed (see how to identify knotweed), there are a wide variety of invasive plants local to us.
In the UK, we are host to a variety of non-native invasive species. While not every non-native species is invasive, all invasive species are non-native. From riverbank-based plants like Himalayan Balsam and Giant Hogweed to aquatic plants such as Floating Pennywort and Water Primrose, there are a wide range of invasive plants in the UK.
Here’s how to identify them:
Bamboo is perhaps one of the most popular plants in the UK that is actually invasive if not planted correctly. As some types of bamboo aren’t at risk of becoming invasive, it’s incredibly hard without expert help and excavation to fully understand the type of bamboo that is growing.
Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) is a highly invasive species that grows rapidly, even in low light conditions, making it hard to contain. It also has explosive seed pods that can distribute seeds up to six metres from the original plant.
Himalayan balsam prefers riverbanks and will grow in great swathes, taking over quickly in the summer months.
Often mistaken for elderflower or common hogweed, giant hogweed (Heracleum Mantegazzianum) is noticeable by its long stems that are thick and hollow, as well as its large white flowers.
If you think you may have seen giant hogweed, stay way away from it unless you have the correct PPE, as the sap can cause serious burns that last for many years.
Ragwort is controlled around areas that are used for livestock and foraging due to its toxicity, especially to horses.
Ragwort is an interesting one, as while it is not inherently invasive or non-native (some varieties are invasive and/or non-native), the damage it does to livestock is harm worth noting.
While a beautiful plant to look at, some types of rhododendrons, if not properly cared for, are incredibly invasive and harmful to native species, as they grow over other plants, block out light and spread rapidly across areas.
The other negative to a rhododendron is the disease carrying ability it has, which is fatal to some of our native trees.
While not as big a threat as the ones listed above, the following species are also invasive and cause issues to native wildflowers in the UK: