Rhododendrons 'should be culled to save UK gardens'
Rhododendrons are loved by the British public but plant experts from the UK National Trust are calling for the plants to be 'culled'. They fear that the rhododendron, which is an alien plant species to Britain, is spreading a deadly disease that will kill off some native plants essential for certain ecosystems to exist.
There is some opposition to the plan from Brits who now consider rhododendrons a fully fledged part of British gardens and country parks and woods.
With its exotic flowers, rhododendron ponticum has been popular in ornamental parks and gardens since it was brought to the UK from the East in the 19th Century.
But the alien invader is spreading two new plant diseases that could seriously affect native species and wipe out important heath land.
The National Trust is so concerned about the problem it has written to the Government asking for funds to help clear rhododendrons.
It says it out of control in many areas of the country.
Rhododendrons were first brought to the UK from Japan and India by plant collectors in the 19th century.
The trees were an immediate hit with gardeners but soon became out of control in the mild wet climate.
The small trees have been blamed for crowding out many native plant species and there have already been culls to save native woodland on National Trust properties in the South West, Wales and Scotland.
Now there is a new concern that the plant is host to two deadly new plant diseases from the phytophthora fungus - known as the plant destroyer.
In a letter to the UK and Scottish Governments, the National Trust and National Trust has called for a cull of rhododendrons to stop the spread of the new diseases and funding for more research into the problem.