Original article from Kent Live
A few years ago, fears about Japanese Knotweed were everywhere, with the World Conservation Union calling the plant one of the world's worst invasive species.
It's certainly a nuisance – as its rapid growth can cause damage to the foundations of buildings, damage concrete, and even kill off other plants.
Worse still – a new interactive map shows that the plant is on the rise in Kent.
Kent had the fourth-fastest rate of increase reported across the UK, with over 200 live cases of the plant found in the last 5 years, a new study has revealed.
Analysis of nearly 30,000 confirmed cases of the invasive plant show numbers have risen 64.4% in the area in the past five years.
This is more than double the national average of 27.9 per cent.
Japanese Knotweed was first introduced to the UK from Japan in the 1800s when engineers believed it would stabilise and enrich railway embankments.
But now, it has spread along and beyond the train lines and the invasive species has been known to damage property thanks to its quick-growing roots.
Kent's 217 'live' cases isn't as high as other larger areas, like South Yorkshire's 1,111 or West Yorkshire's 1,762 – but concern is being driven by the significantly increasing rate of growth.
Horticulture also notes that based on its analysis there may be up to 20,000 further unconfirmed cases in the UK and thousands more unreported.
Horticulture’s map shows that the plant is widespread in the county, with Canterbury, Ashford, Tunbridge Wells and Dover the major hotspots.
However, there appear to be no reported cases on Sheppey or Thanet, meaning Kent's Isles are free of the invasive pest.
In a YouGov survey carried out of more than 900 people, Horticulture found four in five people would walk away from buying a property affected by knotweed.
The survey also found that nearly two-thirds of buyers expect a discount of 5-10 per cent on a property if there was a known knotweed infestation.
While one in twelve had never heard of Japanese Knotweed and nearly half didn’t recognise it in a line-up of plant images.
Horticulture’s map is free to use and users can search by their postcode here.