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Leicester, Ashby, Coalville and Groby among Japanese knotweed hotspots as 100 cases found so far in 2022

A Japanese knotweed removal company has identified Leicester as a hotspot for the invasive species. The plant grows rapidly in the UK, with nothing in this country to eat or compete with it, and it can damage the foundations of homes and other buildings.

Under UK Law, Japanese knotweed is legally a controlled plant under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. While it is not illegal for you to have knotweed on your property, it is against the law to cause or allow the plant to spread – meaning you should probably take action if it’s on your land.

According to specialists at Environet UK, there have been 47 infestations in Leicester already this year – and that’s just the cases that have been reported. There have been a further 28 in the Ashby area, which is also a hotspot for the plant.

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There have also been reports elsewhere around the county. This includes 15 cases in Groby and 10 cases in Coalville.

Japanese knotweed first arrived in UK in 1850 in a box of plant specimens delivered to Kew Gardens in London. At first people loved it because of its rapid growth and pretty heart-shaped leaves and it was planted up and down the country by gardeners and horticulturalists who were oblivious to its dangers.

As well as the foundations of buildings, knotweed does serious damage to drains, driveways and paths, sending its roots up to three meters underground and out seven meters wide in each direction. It’s so serious, the law demands that anyone selling a property tell potential buyers if it’s in the area, usually knocking about five per cent off the value of homes where it is present, according to Environet UK.

Environet UK’s map of local knotweed hotspots

Nic Seal, founder and managing director of Environet, said: “Japanese knotweed tends to strike fear into the hearts of homeowners but as long as they’re aware of its presence and take action to remove it before it causes any serious damage or spreads to a neighbor’s property, there’s no reason to panic. By publishing the 2022 hotspots for Leicestershire we hope to raise awareness and encourage people in the area to be vigilant for signs of knotweed as the growing season takes off, so they can act quickly if needed.

“Anyone living near or moving to one of these hotspots would be wise to check their garden carefully, enter their postcode into Exposed to find out how many known occurrences are nearby. If in doubt, seek expert help.”

Homeowners and buyers who are unsure whether a property is affected by knotweed can now call in help from a specially-trained trio of sniffer dogs, Mick, Mack and Buddy. The trio will search a property for the unique scent of the plant’s rhizome even where it’s dormant beneath the ground or has been deliberately concealed.

Japanese Knotweed is one of the world's most invasive plants
Japanese Knotweed is one of the world’s most invasive plants

How to spot Japanese knotweed

  • Asparagus-like spears emerge from the ground in early spring and begin to sprout pale green leaves with distinctive pink veins
  • In May the plant starts to grow rapidly. The stems harden into bamboo-like structures and the leaves, which grow in a zigzag pattern up the stem, are lush, green and heart-shaped
  • By mid-summer the plant grows at a rate of around 10cm per day, with mature plants forming dense stands two or three meters tall
  • In August the plant blooms, with small clusters of creamy white flowers appearing on the upper leaf axials.

What to do if you think you have Japanese knotweed

  • If you find a suspicious-looking plant and you’re not sure what it is, check out the identification guide on Environet’s website or use the free ID service by sending a photo to
  • Once knotweed is confirmed, commission a professional Japanese knotweed survey to find out the extent of the infestation, where it originated and the best way to tackle it
  • Arrange professional treatment, usually herbicide or excavation, and always be sure to secure an insurance-backed guarantee for the work
  • Sellers are legally obliged to tell any potential buyer if a property has been affected by knotweed, even if the infestation has been treated
  • It’s not illegal to have knotweed on your land, but you will be liable if you allow it to spread to someone else’s property through inaction.


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