Areas affected by Japanese knotweed are mapped by an interactive map to provide a heat map of infestations across the UK.
The online map lists the thousands of infestations of the notorious invasive weed that infest gardens and lands across the country.
The plant grows vigorously, reaching four inches per day in summer, and its roots or rhizomes spread far underground, causing structural damage to buildings.
In the UK it is believed that if the plant which can be three feet tall grows within 23 feet of a property it poses a risk, so mortgages are often turned down unless a plan is made. in place to eradicate it.
But even if the seller does the expensive work, the stigma associated with the plant means that property values ââcan be a tenth lower, even after steps have been taken to control it.
Now, homebuyers can check an area for weed damage on the Exposed: The Japanese Knotweed Heatmap website.
It allows people to search by zip code to find out the number of sightings reported nearby or to report any new sightings.
Knotweed hot spots are marked from yellow to red depending on the severity of the infestation.
In Colchester, there were 11 occurrences within 4 km of the city center.
In the Mersea and Harwich areas there were three and in Clacton ten.
Around the Maldon area there were 11 occurrences over a distance of 4 km and in Chelmsford ten occurrences.
In Southend it was larger as there were 29 occurrences within a 4 km area.
Other parts of the UK have had much larger reports of knotweed.
Hot spots include London, Bristol, Manchester, Merseyside and Lancashire, South Wales in and around Cardiff and Swansea and another from Nottingham to Sheffield.
The tool was created by Nic Seal of Environment UK who said: âThis heat map will allow us to build a national picture of the Japanese knotweed problem and give the general public the information they need to assess the problem. risk locally, especially when buying a property.
âIt will also be a useful tool for homeowners who want to be aware of infestations near their property that could spread, putting their home at risk.
“The site is already well populated, but it is an ongoing project. The more people who report sightings, the more effective it will become.”
The Victorians introduced Japanese knotweed as an ornamental plant, but it now grows rampantly along railroad tracks, waterways, in parks and gardens and is notoriously difficult to treat.
The Environment Agency calls it “hands down the most aggressive, destructive and invasive plant in the UK”.
It can be spotted by red or purple asparagus-like shoots that appear from the ground and grow quickly, forming tough stems from April or May.
As the stems grow, the heart-shaped leaves gradually unfold and turn green.
It blooms in late summer when covered with tiny creamy white flowers
In late fall, the leaves drop and the stems turn brown and die, although they remain upright.
What is Japanese knotweed?
It is the scourge of British owners.
It grows at a ridiculous rate, it is almost impossible to get rid of and can wipe out the value of your property.
It has red stems and dark green leaves and was introduced to Europe in the mid-19th century by a German botanist who discovered it growing on the side of a Japanese volcano.
It has no natural predator in the UK and at its most prolific level it can grow up to eight inches per day.
Knotweed costs the UK economy Â£ 166million a year to treat and devalue houses.
Once discovered, it must be disposed of in a safe manner.