Help us tackle the menace of Himalayan balsam

May 28 2019
Help us tackle the menace of Himalayan balsam

Frampton Cotterell Village Action group members write for the Voice

HIMALAYAN balsam was introduced to the UK by our Victorian ancestors, who appreciated its exotic beauty and ability to form large clumps in the woodland of the landed gentry.

Unfortunately they did not account for the fact that it has no natural checks to its growth in this country, nor its ability to spread rapidly into the wild via explosive seed heads and by river-borne seed dispersal. It has since spread countrywide, where it outcompetes native plants along our river banks, resulting in a loss of biodiversity and an increased risk of bank erosion during winter floods.

For the past few years, Frampton Cotterell Village Action has been managing balsam along the River Frome. By clearing the plants before they can produce mature seeds, the amount of balsam has been substantially reduced locally. Clearing balsam is relatively easy, as it is very shallow rooted and even the largest plant can be uprooted and crushed to prevent it from forming new roots.

We will be going out again this summer to ensure that regrowth doesn’t start from seeds still in the environment. Work is normally carried out on the river banks, though some of our more intrepid volunteers enjoy wading in the river to reach less accessible areas.

Working along the river is a very pleasant way to get some gentle exercise for young and old alike, and new volunteers are welcome to join us.

We can be contacted by email at framcottva@hotmail.co.uk or via the Village Action Facebook page, where we will also advertise our sessions.