Guide on invasive species: Giant hogweed
Grey squirrel

Quick guide on invasive species

Many of the UK’s invasive non-native species are a great source of healthy, tasty and sustainable meat. 

See our guide on invasive species which are edible, non-edible and dangerous or poisonous…

Please remember to be cautious when foraging and make sure you identified your findings correctly prior to consumption.


Egyptian goose

Small apricot-coloured goose with brown eye patches and collar. Native to subtropical Africa. Aggressive towards other wildfowl. Can potentially hybridise with native species.

Canada goose

Its black neck and white throat make it very distinctive. Native to North America. Causes major damage to grassland, watersides and crops. Widespread in the UK and usually gathers in flocks.

Grey squirrel

Mainly grey but its fur can be reddish-brown in places. Native to parts of the USA and Canada, widespread in the UK. Causes major damage to trees and can prey on bird eggs and chicks. Spreads squirrel pox virus, which is deadly for native reds. There are plenty of recipes for squirrel. Below is a simple suggestion.
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Smallest deer species found in the UK. Native to China. Distinctive antlers which curve backwards and end with a hooked point. Bucks also have fangs. Reddish-brown in colour and constantly moving. Where its population density is high, muntjac has a devastating impact on ground flora.

Sika deer

Native to Japan, Taiwan and east Asia mainland. Medium-sized deer with a characteristic light crescent on the forehead. Can hybridise with native red deer which is a major threat to the purity of the red species. Can harm woodland health and the biodiversity of ground flora.

North American bullfrog

Much larger than any of the native frog species and has a very visible eardrum. Native to North America. Found in freshwater ponds and lakes. Feeds on small animals from amphibians to mammals, threatening native species. Can spread the chytrid fungus which affects native amphibians. Anyone partial to some fried frog legs is in for a treat as these frogs have thick, meaty legs, perfect for cooking.

Signal crayfish

Much larger than native white-clawed crayfish. Claws have red undersides with light-coloured blotch at the claw hinges. Native to North America. Found in freshwater across the UK. Causes declines in the diversity of aquatic life. Threatens native crayfish. Simply boil in salted water for a tasty treat.

Japanese knotweed

Native to Japan, Taiwan and China. Has bamboo-like, purple-speckled stem and big, round leaves, spreads via underground rhizomes and is hard to eradicate once established. Causes riverbank erosion and structural damage to buildings. It is edible and tastes like asparagus or rhubarb. Here are some recipes...
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Himalayan balsam

Native to West and Central Himalayas. Widespread in the UK. Tall annual plant with distinctive pink flowers and a strong, fruity aroma. Outcompetes native flora, causes riverbank erosion and can increase the risk of flooding. All parts of this plant are edible. See how to use it in the kitchen.
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Best not to eat...

Rose-ringed parakeet

Native to South Asia and Central Africa. A very distinctive bird with bright green plumage, red beak and long tail feathers. Has a pale green collar and a black strap under its beak. Outcompetes native birds for nesting sites and food. While you could argue that the parakeets are edible, we wouldn't recommend eating them.

Quagga mussels

Native to Russia, Ukraine and the Caucasus. Triangular in shape and no bigger than 5cm. Shells are usually striped but can also be solid-coloured. Can harm native biodiversity and alter freshwater ecosystems. Can also cause problems when growing in pipes or on ships. Eating these mussels is not recommended as they store pollutants filtered from the water.

American mink

Native to parts of North America. A semi-aquatic mustelid with dense, dark-brown fur and a white chin patch. Can be found around both freshwater and saltwater habitats. Hunts a variety of aquatic and terrestrial prey. Has been linked to the decreasing numbers of water voles.

Poisonous or dangerous to eat

Giant hogweed

Native to South-west Russia and Georgia. Massive plant with sharply divided leaves. Grows up to 5m tall. Common across the UK. Avoid contact as sap causes painful blisters, photosensitivity and even blindness. Outcompetes native flora and causes riverbank erosion. Must be removed as controlled waste.

Asian hornet

Native to Asia. Slightly smaller than our native hornet. Dark brown or black with yellow-tipped legs and a single yellow abdomen segment. Poses a serious threat to native pollinators. Highly aggressive and best left undisturbed. All sightings must be reported.