Beware of hidden plant danger

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The Independent Online
It may look like a beautiful ornamental plant, but gardeners are being warned not to fall for a "wolf in sheep's clothing" - a plant that could be nothing but a ruinous weed. Gardening Which? says that some of the most destructive weeds are on sale in garden centres, masquerading as fancy plants.

Their true nature - long tough roots, rampant growth and propagation - may be disguised by colourful flowers, fancy foliage or a dwarf form. Many an unsuspecting gardener has been duped by an attractive plant, only to discover that it is in fact a variation on a weed they would never have knowingly introduced into their garden.

"No right-minded person would buy a pot of ground elder but plenty of people will happily part with their money for its variegated offspring, Aegopodium podagraria Variegatum which, though less vigorous, still has weedy characteristics," said the editor, Alistair Ayres. "It's worth remembering that Japanese knotweed was originally brought into this country as an ornamental shrub. Today it is so troublesome that it is an offence to plant it in the wild except under special licence."

Other plants to take care with include Persicaria virginiana (Painters Palette), Milium effusum Aureum (Bowles' golden grass), yellow meconopsis, Duchesnea and Trifolium pratense.