Bird seed can cause illegal cannabis plants to grow in your garden, a BBC Gardeners’ World expert has warned readers of the programme’s magazine.
A reader who sent in an image asking the experts to identify a mysterious shrub in his garden was warned to immediately destroy it.
The September 2019 issue contains an email from Barry Thorp who sent a picture of the plant, and asked: “Can you identify this mystery plant from my garden?”.
Responding in the Gardeners’ Question Time section, Anne Swithinbank identified it as hemp and pointed out it is illegal to grow cannabis at home.
She advised Barry to destroy it immediately – but warned against burning it on a bonfire.
Her answer read: “It looks like hemp (Cannabis sativa).
“It is, of course, illegal to grow and probably germinated from bird seed.
“Although it has obviously thrived in the warm summer, you had better destroy it.
“It is safe to put on the compost heap but I would advise against a bonfire.”
Guy Barter, RHS Chief Horticulturist, agreed with the BBC specialist, and told The Telegraph: “Yes this is a cannabis satvia plant. It is illegal to possess/cultivate it in the UK without a special licence. Some legal cultivation is allowed under licence both for pharmaceutical use and, using low cannaboid content cultivars, for seed, oil and fibre.
“Denatured hemp seed is offered for bird food and viable hemp seed an occasional contaminant and may well have spread via this route. Plants should be destroyed to avoid potential prosecution.”