People warned about the dangers of invasive plants

Giant Hogweed.

People across the East are being warned not to attempt clearing giant hogweed and other non-native invasive plants without seeking professional advice first.

The Country Land and Business Association says the weeds - such as Giant Hogweed, Himalayan Balsam, Japanese Knotweed and Floating Pennywort can be dangerous to humans, animals and other plants.

Himalayan balsam grows rapidly and spreads quickly, smothering other vegetation as it goes.

The sap from Giant Hogweed can cause severe blistering and scarring of the skin but it and other plants are also having a toxic effect on our native biodiversity.

Floating Pennywort can grow up to 20cm per day and may quickly dominate a waterbody.

Giant Hogweed and Japanese Knotweed are regularly in the news for the impacts they can have on people, causing blistering of the skin and with Japanese Knotweed with the economic issues with structural impacts and in developments. They can have major connotations on the wildlife along riverbanks... as you can see it's very dense Himalayan Balsam and they can outcompete native flora and have impacts on the native forna.

Matthew Holden, River Stour Project Officer
Japanese Knotweed is the UK's most invasive plant. It has the ability to grow through walls, tarmac and concrete.

The plants were introduced to the UK by the Victorians to liven up their gardens but over the decades they have spread rapidly.

Now they have a strong hold in many areas of countryside - by their very nature, these species are well adapted to exploiting habitats.

If you spot an invasive species of plant and want to get rid of it the advice from the Country Land and Business Association is to get professional advice first.

It's very important that the weeds are cleared in a substantial fashion so that every single part of this invasive weed is removed and no plant mater ends up back in the river or back in the soil. We've found that the seeds can lie dormant for at least seven years and in some cases up to 15 years so it is vitally important that every last part of this plant is cleared otherwise it will come back and be a problem yet again next year.

Claire Wright, Country Land and Business Association

Read more: How to prevent harmful weeds and invasive, non-native plants spreading