Page last updated at 15:08 GMT, Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Campaign tackles invasive plants

Water primrose [Pic: Trevor Renals]
Species like water primrose have been blamed for choking waterways

Gardeners across Scotland have been asked to help stop the spread of invasive plants.

The Be Plant Wise campaign aims to highlight the problems caused when invasive aquatic species are released in the wild.

Plants such as New Zealand pigmyweed, fairy fern and parrot's feather have caused problems across Scotland.

They can outgrow native plants, choke waterways, disrupt angling and boating and can also exacerbate flooding.

It is feared the cost of clearing these plants could run into millions of pounds if they expand at their current rate.

Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham launched the campaign at a garden centre in Midlothian, alongside gardening expert Pete Jackson.

'Real threat'

They urged the public to be responsible gardeners by keeping their ponds under control, ensuring invasive plants do not escape to the wild and to dispose of unwanted plants carefully.

Ms Cunningham said: "Invasive aquatic plants have the potential to cause huge problems to Scotland's environment as well as threatening our enjoyment of it.

"We all know about the very real threat to our native wildlife from grey squirrels and American signal crayfish but little is known about the threat posed by invasive aquatic plants.

"By being responsible gardeners, we can all help to protect our waterways and wildlife as well as helping to reduce the growing costs of dealing with these plants."

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