Cornwall gardeners warned not to buy popular plant 'choking' woodlands

Rhododendron is known as an “invasive species”
-Credit: (Image: CazAusten/pr supplied)

Gardeners in Cornwall have been warned not to buy a popular plant experts say is "choking" native woodlands.. The Woodland Trust says that while the rhododendron ponticum may be visually appealing, it can carry disease and is known as an "invasive species".

The Trust says it is particularly troublesome in the UK's rare temperate rainforests and costs the country millions a year to tackle. It spent £360,000 over the past year on invasive plant control, including removing fast spreading rhododendron.

The woodland conservation charity says it is a time consuming, painstaking process to remove the plant by root. And it says that imported rhododendron plants carry a strong risk of arriving with the deadly disease Phytophthora ramorum, which can be fatal to more than 150 plant species.

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The Trust is calling on the Government to do more to tackle the issue. It is also asking the public to help by not buying and not planting rhododendron ponticum.

Rebecca Gosling, a tree disease expert at the Woodland Trust said: “Rhododendron ponticum is a real problem for the UK’s native plants and trees. It is choking native woodland and shading out characteristic plants, including in important temperate rainforests which cover just 1% of land in the UK.

“Action must be taken to protect further species and habitats from the same fate. Increased trade and the growing impacts of climate change furthers the likelihood of new species introductions. As a top five driver of biodiversity decline, the Government must treat invasive non-native species as a priority issue.

"A failure to get a grip on these and the pressure this places on struggling wildlife populations, will also make it harder to meet nature recovery targets and halt the decline in species abundance by 2030.”

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