Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Is the next Japanese Knotweed already in your garden?

Houttuynia cordata in Katharina's garden -
she has found it hard to get rid of
Image: K. Dehnen-Schmutz
That's the question that Katharina wants News & Views readers to help her answer! Over to Katharina to tell us more:

 "Most alien plants in the British flora considered to have negative impacts have been introduced as ornamental garden plants. There are often long delays from the introduction to the recognition of a problematic invasive plant. 

"A new project aims to test if the reporting of early warning signs from gardens could help to design more effective prevention strategies at the early stages of the invasion process. 


Crocosmia x crocosmiifolia naturalised in Cornwall
Image: K. Dehnen-Schmutz
"Gardeners are therefore asked to report ornamental plants that are spreading in their gardens and are difficult to control using this online survey. Up to five plants can be reported. 

"People who have taken the survey already say that it takes between 10 and 15 minutes. Time well spent to perhaps prevent the next Japanese Knotweed.

"As this is a pilot I am mainly interested in responses from people who are able to identify the plants they report. In the final version there will also be an option to send photos, which does not really work at this time of the year.

"I will also be at the BSBI Annual Exhibition Meeting on the 28th of November to introduce the project and hopefully report some first results".

Gunnera tinctoria colonising a
roadside ditch on Benbecula.
Image: F. Donald
Many thanks to Katharina for telling us about this project - the on-line survey sounds ideal for any gardener or botanist who has had a go at the National Plant Monitoring Scheme and the New Year Plant Hunt and is ready for another challenge. You could try out the pilot survey now and offer some helpful feedback or wait until next year for the final version. Or both!

To give you a bit more background, here's a link to a blogpost about alien plants by BSBI member/Plantlife officer Dr Trevor Dines.  

BSBI members have previously drawn attention to the spread of Gunnera tinctoria which has "jumped the fence" of some larger gardens in the north and west of these islands, and is becoming quite a pest. If we can help flag up any other potential problem plants at an early stage, we could all save ourselves a lot of time and expense further down the line! 

If you've already booked for this year's Exhibition Meeting, you will be able to find out more about the survey from Katharina. If you haven't booked yet, you can still do so here.