Lake District battles a killer from the suburbs: garden centre pondweed

A A A

The Lake District has declared war on an innocuous sounding plant, sold for £5 at garden centres, which is strangling life in three of the national park's finest treasures – Bassenthwaite Lake, Coniston Water and Derwent Water.

The Lake District has declared war on an innocuous sounding plant, sold for £5 at garden centres, which is strangling life in three of the national park's finest treasures – Bassenthwaite Lake, Coniston Water and Derwent Water.

The plant is a wild form of pondweed, which is native to New Zealand and difficult to kill. It was not recorded in Cumbria until 1986, but environmental surveys have now revealed it to be competing with native species such as floating water plantain – a rare plant which is in decline throughout Europe – and damaging the spawning areas of rare fish.

The plant's incursions have been helped by gardeners' traditional appreciation of it. Pondweed is one of a number of submerged aquatics that, by feeding off the dissolved mineral salts on which algae thrive, keeps garden ponds clean and oxygenates fish. Some of its rare forms were taken into consideration when one of Scotland's most popular rivers, the Tweed, was declared a Site of Special Scientific Interest two years ago.

But although pondweed's multiplication can be managed in a garden pond – where it takes root in the mud and sprouts leaves which float on the surface – shifting its wild forms from the lakes is almost impossible. This has led the Lake District National Park Authority and the Environment Agency to urge people not to buy it and to destroy it when removing it from ponds.

Phil Taylor, the park's senior ecologist, said: "There is no realistic way of getting rid of it from the three lakes, so it is absolutely vital that we prevent it spreading to other waters and we are seeking the help of the public to do this. We are also asking the public only to buy native aquatic plants for their ponds."

Anglers, sailors and walkers in the Lake District have been asked to clean their footwear, fishing tackle and boat propellers after use in an effort to curb the spread of the weed.

The warning is the second environmental threat to the Lake District made public in less than a month. Conservationists have said the character of the daffodil beds on the shores of Ullswater could change unless a more common variety is removed.

Although the wild species, Narcissus pseudonarcissus, is not threatened, it is already showing signs of turning into a hybrid.

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before