Somerset County Council

Report noxious weeds


Under the Noxious Weeds Act 1959 we are responsible for controlling certain noxious weeds, including ragwort. This has to be removed where it is reported as causing a nuisance to highway users or adjoining landowners.

Other invasive species being treated in Somerset are Japanese Knotweed, Himalayan Knotweed, Himalayan Balsam and Giant Hogweed. 

Weed descriptions 

If you know where these may be growing please tell us and we will make sure it is dealt with in the appropriate manner.

Report now

When you contact us, please give us the following information:

  • Your name, address and phone number in case we need to contact you
  • The location of the weeds. including the road name and parish
  • The type of weed (if you know)

Our environmental works seek to protect wildlife on roadside verges, while maintaining road safety, consistent with the Somerset Highways Biodiversity Manual, which you can find in the Information and resources section of this page. 

We use an environmentally friendly non-residual weedkiller that leaves no residue after 24 hours.

Our Weedit machine minimises the amount of chemicals used by targeting weeds with a sophisticated computerised system. This has allowed us to treat more for less and is in line with our policy to reduce the amount of chemicals used in highway maintenance.

Weed descriptions

  • Common ragwort 
    Highly poisonous to cattle, horses and other animals. It is not harmful to humans. This weed is a stout ragged plant which can grow to a height of 1 metre. It has long thin toothed leaves which are green on the top and have a whitish underside. It also has large clusters of yellow flowers measuring approximately 2cm across.

    You can see what it looks like and find more information here

  • Japanese Knotweed or Himalayan Knotweed
    A highly vigorous and hardy weed which can grow almost anywhere. It grows in clumps and can reach a height of 3 metres.  It has a thick bamboo like stem which has a red and green pattern. Its leaves are light green, broad and triangular in shape. It can also have small white flowers. 

    You can see what it looks like and find more information here

  • Himalayan balsam 
    Often found on river banks, growing up to 2 metres in height. Each plant lasts for one year and dies at the end of the growing season. It has
    - reddish coloured stems
    - dark green, lance-shaped leaves with jagged edges
    - flowers from June to October
    - large, brightly coloured flowers that are usually in variable shades from purple to pale pink
    - around 2,500 seeds per plant each year
    - explosive seed pods that can throw seeds over 6 metres away from the plant

    You can see what it looks like and find more information here

  • Giant hogweed
     (each red/white segment 50 cm) You should take great care when identifying giant hogweed. Contact with the plant, particularly the sap, can lead to severe blistering and scarring. Giant hogweed closely resembles native cow parsley or hogweed. It can take four years to reach its full height of 3 to 5 metres and flower.
    - has a reddish purple stem with fine spines that make it appear furry like a stinging nettle
    - has hollow stems
    - has spotted leaf stalks
    - has leaves up to 1.5 metres wide
    - flowers in June and July
    - has flower heads that are usually 50 centimetres wide
    - each flower head is capable of producing 50,000 seeds every year
    - has seeds that can stay in the soil for several years before they develop

You can see what it looks like and find more information here 


Contact: Roads and Transport Team
Phone: 0300 123 2224

Opening Hours: Monday 8am to 6pm, Tuesday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm, Saturday and Sunday closed.

If there is an urgent problem outside these hours and it is a risk to public safety please phone the police on 101.

If you need to visit a highway area office you can find the address of your local office here.

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