AN interactive map is highlighting hotspots in Cheshire for an invasive plant species that ‘strikes fear’ into homeowners.

Due to its destructive nature, Japanese knotweed causes thousands of pounds worth of damage to homes and buildings every year.

Knotweed hibernates over winter, but during this time of year it begins to grow rapidly, with red or purple spear-like shoots emerging from the ground.

These quickly grow into lush green shrubs with pink-flecked stems and bamboo-like canes, and if left unchecked, it can pose serious problems.

Knotweed has the potential to grow up through cracks in concrete, tarmac driveways, pathways, drains and cavity walls, with roots as deep as three metres, or up to seven metres horizontally.

A study by invasive plant specialists Environet has ranked Warrington as the worst in Cheshire for the UK’s most invasive plant.

The town has between 121 and 133 infestations within a 4km radius – more than Northwich (43), Knutsford (17), Middlewich (4), and Winsford (18).

As growing season gets underway, experts have shared hotspots using data from its interactive online heatmap tracker.

Nic Seal, founder and managing director of Environet, said: “Japanese knotweed tends to strike fear into the hearts of homeowners.

“But as long as they are aware of its presence and take action to remove it before it causes any serious damage or spreads to a neighbour’s property, there is no reason to panic.

“By publishing hotspots, we hope to raise awareness and encourage people in the area to be vigilant for signs of knotweed as the growing season takes off, so they can act quickly if needed.

“Anyone living near or moving to one of these hotspots would be wise to check their garden carefully, enter their postcode into the heatmap to find out how many known occurrences are nearby, and if in doubt seek expert help.”

You can enter your postcode at to discover the number of sightings nearby, with hotspots highlighted in yellow, orange and, in the worst cases, red.

The map enables homeowners to understand the risk knotweed poses to their home, or one they wish to buy.