AN invasive species of plant is thriving in Warrington, with experts warning that that recent wet weather has allowed it to be ‘well ahead’ of its usual season.

Japanese knotweed is native to East Asia and was introduced to the UK in the 1800s where it has since spread out of control. 

The recent outbreak in Warrington is the worst in Cheshire, with Warrington seeing more than eight times as many reports as some other major towns in Cheshire.

It can grow up to four inches a day and forms dense thickets which can kill native plant species, making it particularly harmful to the flora of the town. 

Following on from an inordinately wet couple of months, as well as higher than average temperatures, the weed has been allowed to thrive.

The Warrington area at the time of writing has 144 occurrences of the weed within a just four-kilometre area. This marks the town as a hotspot for the East Asian weed.

Warrington Guardian: The hotspots in CheshireThe hotspots in Cheshire (Image: Environet UK)

The recorded numbers mean that the town is more than double that of nearby Northwich (44), significantly more than Runcorn (104), and more than eight times higher than cases in Knutsford (17).

Daniel Docking, a technical manager for the Property Care Association's Invasive Weed Control Group, said: "We can still expect late-season frosts and dry weather in March and April but Japanese knotweed has already started to establish itself.

"The plant's resilience will mean it is in a strong position to thrive even as the temperature drops again and other plants slow their growth.

"The plant is identified by "distinctive" red stems and bamboo-like appearance. It can grow up to 8ft tall and its roots can reach as wide as 28ft."

Mr Docking added that if Japanese knotweed is found on private land, the landowner must take the necessary steps to prevent its further growth as defined by the law.