Non-native plants

We have provided £35,000 to support a partnership project to weed out invasive non-native plants that are threatening important wildlife-rich sites in the New Forest. Five particularly invasive plants are being tackled:

Japanese knotweed Japanese knotweed
Native to Japan, Taiwan and northern China, introduced to Europe as an ornamental plant in the early 19 century; can grow through walls, tarmac and concrete

Credit: Non-Native Species Secretariat.
Himalayan balsam Himalayan balsam
Native to western Himalaya, now the tallest annual plant found in Britain, growing 2-3 metres high

Credit: Non-Native Species Secretariat
giant hogweed Giant hogweed
A perennial plant that can grow up to 5 metres tall; native of the Caucasus mountains and now widespread in Britain, especially along river banks

Credit: Catherine Chatters.
American skunk cabbage American skunk cabbage
Can grow in many different environments, native of western North America; named skunk cabbage because of its musky scent

Credit: Non-Native Species Secretariat
new zealand pygmyweed New Zealand pygmyweed
Has spread rapidly in Britain's ponds and lakes since the 1970s; first introduced from New Zealand and Australia as an oxygenating plant for ponds.

Credit: Peter Llewellyn

Originally introduced into British private gardens and estates, all five plants are now established in the countryside, where their vigorous growth can overwhelm native species as they spread alarmingly quickly.

The New Forest is one of the most important areas for wildlife in Western Europe and it is vital that action is taken to prevent the spread of the aggressive invaders.

Our Community Wildlife Plans project is mobilising volunteers to care for their local environment, including removing Himalayan balsam. Watch some volunteers in action below:


We have also joined forces with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, the Environment Agency, the Forestry Commission, Defra and Natural England to run a joint non-native plants project.

This is led by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust's New Forest Non-Native Plants Officer, Catherine Chatters, who is looking for farmers and landowners to help with this project.  

If you live in or near the New Forest and have any of the invasive plants on your land, please call her on 023 8042 4205 or email catherinec@hwt.org.uk so that the project can develop a record of where the plants are growing. The project organisers can also give advice and arrange for work to eradicate them or control their growth.

For more information, download the Plantlife booklet or use the Plant Tracker phone app.

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