HER is how to spot invasive plant species like Japanese knotweed and giant hogweed growing in your garden.

Worcestershire Wildlife Trust has provided tips for spotting the two invasive plants which were both introduced to the UK as ornamental plants in the 19th century.

Wendy Carter, of the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust, said that Japanese knotweed spreads rapidly underground and can even push its way through asphalt to create giant bamboo-like stands of vegetation.

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She said: "The introduction of non-native plants to the UK has been going on for centuries but early plant-hunters, estate owners and keen gardeners didn’t necessarily understand the potential devastation that some of these plants could cause to our native flora and fauna.

"It’s estimated that damage by and control of Japanese knotweed costs around £166 million per year in the UK. 

"Readers will know if they have this invasive plant in their garden, with its vigorous growth of zig-zag stems, lush green leaves, towers of white flowers and purple-speckled stems."

Giant hogweed, for example, is native to southwest Russia, and it is easy to spot growing at this time of the year.

Wendy Carter said: "The name gives it away; this relative of our own hogweed is much much bigger and was introduced in the 19th century as an ornamental plant. A

"As well as out-competing our native plants and causing erosion of river banks, this plant makes it onto the news because contact with any part of it can cause blistering of skin following exposure to sunlight.

"The good news is that at this time of year, it’s really easy to identify as the leaves can grow up to 3m in length and the height of the plant can reach 5m."

What are other invasive plants in the UK?

Two other invasive plant species in the UK are rhododendrons and Himalayan balsam.

 It is now illegal to buy and plant many of the species but they might still get moved around the country unwittingly.

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Worcestershire Wildlife Trust advises people not to plant or dump plants from their garden into the wild, and to always clean and dry their shoes and equipment if they have been in or on a body of water before going to another.

"Remove anything that you find, leave it at the original site and clean everything thoroughly," she added.

Information about identifying and recording non-native species in gardens and local greenspaces can be found at www.nonnativespecies.org.