Alien weeds attack native plants

NATURE MINISTER Ben Bradshaw has made an impassioned plea to gardeners to stop introducing monster alien plants to the UK.

The “Weeds of Mass Domination” are threatening to invade some of Britain‘s most valuable wildlife hotspots, Mr Bradshaw warned visitors to the Chelsea Flower Show.

“The public are still being encouraged to buy plants that are disastrous for our biodiversity,” the Minister said on Weds (May 26).

Garden centres and TV programmes encourage people to buy non-native plants such as Japanese knotweed, Himalayan balsam, Spanish blue bells and Parrot‘s Feather.

At the WMD stand, run by the Cornwall Knotweed Forum, Mr Bradshaw was told how these weeds, dumped on farmland, were threatening native species and transforming ecosystems.

“I cannot believe this is still going on” Mr Bradshaw said.

When plants are grown away from their natural habitat the checks and balances that nature provides can be missing, and they can grow uncontrolled, according to the Knotweed Forum.

If they are not caught in time they can threaten native species and transform ecosystems.

Visitors to the Forum‘s stand could see a display of a corn field 200 years ago with its indigenous meadow, pond and marsh plants.

Today this plot is smothered in alien weeds, following the dumping of garden waste that rooted and has taken over the site.

DEFRA is currently seeking to draw up a voluntary code of practice for the horticulture industry to stamp out the illegal introduction of non-native species to the wild.

But Mr Bradshaw said he would not rule out an import and sales bans of some species if they continued to be traded.

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