Japanese knotweed is growing months ahead of normal in parts of the UK according to a national trade body.
Mild winter weather has prompted unusually early sightings of the invasive plant, according to the Property Care Association (PCA).
Japanese knotweed, which originated in the Far East, has thrived in Britain in recent years.
Sightings of the invasive weed, which is characterised by distinctive red stems emerging from the ground, have already been reported in several areas of the country, according to the PCA.
Usually the species doesn’t appear until April, but mild, wet conditions are thought to have created perfect conditions for early growth. The widespread flooding seen across the UK could also have spread the plant’s seeds further than normal.
The presence of the destructive plant can devalue land and property and lead to the refusal of mortgages on properties affected by it and the PCA is urging caution in tackling it.
Steve Hodgson, PCA chief executive, said: “We’ve had reports from our members of the plant taking hold earlier than usual.
“Japanese knotweed is just a plant and we are taking all steps necessary to ‘normalise’ it, so it is viewed generally as any other type of property problem, in that it can be identified and treated, with minimal impact.
“However, its effective eradication is a job for the experts, so it’s vitally important for anyone who thinks they might have an issue to seek advice.”
The PCA’s Invasive Weed Control Group provides consumers with a means of identifying specialist contractors and consultants.
The Association, which has been in formation for more than 80 years, worked with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) - supported by the Council of Mortgage Lenders and The Building Societies Association - together with Japanese knotweed control companies that currently operate within the UK, to set up the Invasive Weed Control Group, to signpost consumers to professional treatment companies.
A full list of companies in the Invasive Weed Control group is available in the ‘Find A Specialist’ section on the PCA website and more details on Japanese knotweed are available via www.property-care.org/homeowners/invasive-weed-control.