Gardeners urged to help stop spread of invasive plants

Invasive alien plants are causing havoc in our natural landscape, but gardeners can play a key part in stopping their spread.

That`s the view of Imperial College Wye which will be exhibiting at this year`s Chelsea Flower Show, opening 20 May. The College stand (LL23) will outline the threat caused by alien or non-native plants introduced intentionally from overseas, usually as garden plants. The main culprits – including rhododendron ponticum, giant hogweed and Japanese knotweed – are not only threatening native species, but causing human health problems such as skin rashes. These plants can also cost millions of pounds to control.

And invasive plants are not only a threat to the UK`s natural habitat. British species which have been transported overseas with disastrous consequences include gorse and broom in Australia and New Zealand and purple loosestrife in the United States.

Scientists from Imperial College Wye are working alongside experts internationally, via the Global Invasive Species Programme, to identify the world`s most invasive species and recommend practical ways of preventing their introduction or controlling them.

Chairman of GISP, Professor Jeff Waage is also Head of the Department of Agricultural Sciences at Imperial College Wye.

He says: “Many of these alien invasive plants have been introduced for good reasons including their spectacular colour, smell or shape. Only a tiny few pose an invasive problem. But these few are becoming an increasing menace both in this country and overseas.

Our exhibit will highlight some of the most destructive species and also give practical advice on how gardeners can help by becoming more aware of invasive plant risks and more selective in what they buy and plant.”

For further information, visit the Imperial College Wye stand in the Life-Long Learning Marquee at Chelsea.

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