Rhododendron ponticum is a non-native species that thrives in our climate and on the soils of the High Weald. It also spreads relatively rapidly in woodland areas at the expense of the native plants that get shaded out by the dense foliage of Rhododendron. Left unchecked Rhododendron can have a seriously negative impact on woodland habitats and make management access difficult due to its dense growth.
What can be done?
Rhododendron can be removed and controlled through a number of methods; however there is no easy option. All of the recognised methods are costly and time consuming but the rewards in terms of improvement to the woodland will certainly be worthwhile.
Information and guidance can be found by following the external links.
Rhododendron is also a known host plant in the UK for Phytopthora ramorum, the cause of Sudden Oak Death in the USA. The concern over spread of this disease in the UK provides further rationale for removing Rhododendron from our woodlands.
A comprehensive publication on the subject is available from the Forestry Commission entitled ‘Managing and controlling invasive rhododendron.
Grants towards the removal of Rhododendron from woodlands are available from the Forestry Commission through the English Woodland Grant Scheme (EWGS). In ancient woodlands in the High Weald AONB a special grant for 80% funding is available.