The Removal of Rhododendron has been a very emotive subject with groups for and against.

 Why control rhododendron

The invasive form of rhododendron is an aggressive coloniser of woodlands and due to its evergreen nature can have negative effects on;

• biodiversity,

• woodland ecology,

• access,

• and tree health.


Where extensive stands of invasive rhododendron become established the ground flora, which is an integral part of ancient woodland such as Oxhey Woods, may be severely impoverished. The deep, year round shade of rhododendron inhibits drifts of spring flowers such as Bluebell, Red Campion, Primrose and other spring flowers. Research has also found that bird and invertebrate numbers are significantly lower in mature woodlands where there is continuous cover of rhododendron (Barron & Little, undated).

The deep shade cast by dense stands of rhododendron also prevents the natural regeneration of woodland as new tree seedlings cannot become established (Barron & Little, undated). This will mean that new generations of trees cannot develop to replace those lost, with the eventual reduction, over time of woodland cover.

As rhododendron matures and creates dense, impenetrable stands of vegetation, physical access to a site can be significantly impaired (Forestry Commission, 2006). This can also make public open space more dark & forbidding, and may reduce usage if people become more fearful for their personal safety.

Rhododendron has also recently been identified as the main woodland host for two species of Phytophthora, which are fungal pathogens known to cause the sudden death of Oak and Beech trees (Forestry Commission, 2006). Hence control of rhododendron can help prevent the spread of these pathogens and reduce the likelihood of the infection spreading through wooded areas.

Rhododendron walk


One of the main areas of mature rhododendron bushes is known locally as the rhododendron walk and is found in the southern compartment of Oxhey Woods. It is thought that this area is the original source of much of the invasive rhododendron in the woodland and is a well established historic feature of the site.

In order for any rhododendron control to be successful the existing invasive rhododendron along the walk will need to be removed to prevent seeds from the mature bushes from re-colonising cleared areas and re-infecting the site.

However, in order to conserve this valued historic feature of the site it is proposed that the cleared areas of invasive rhododendron are replanted with less aggressive species of rhododendron in a phased programme over several years. This will also ensure that an attractive display of flowers will be maintained and the new rhododendron will have time to establish before all the existing rhododendron is removed.

From (Rhododendron Control Plan Sep 2011)


The Rhododendron Walk is in fact a Trackway that used to link Oxhey Lane to Sandy Lane / Watford Road and can be seen on a map of 1822. Today it is a much used path and one of a few historical features that is easily seen. The conservation volunteers feel very strongly about this walk and will work with the users of the wood, the Council and Countryside Management Service to work on the best possible solution to conserve it.