Why bash the Balsam?
What a successful day today, with our first public event on Leverhulme park since lockdown. We made sure that all of the social distancing rules were followed including getting volunteers’ contact details for track and trace, sanitizing equipment before and after use and making sure there were no more than 6 in a group.
We are seeing the benefits of having cleared a load of the balsam from previous years and there is still a lot to do. This invasive plant, that was brought into the country by the Victorians, crowds out the habitats for other native plants and so clearing areas on the park is so important.
Background (source: wikipaedia)
Himalayan balsam is native to the Himalayas, specifically to the areas between Kashmir and Uttarakhand In its native range it is usually found in altitudes between 2000–2500 m above sea level, although it has been reported in up to 4000 m above sea level. Its aggressive seed dispersal, coupled with high nectar production which attracts pollinators, often allow it to outcompete native plants. Himalayan balsam also promotes river bank erosion due to the plant dying back over winter, leaving the bank unprotected from flooding. Invasive Himalayan balsam can also adversely affect indigenous species by attracting pollinators (e.g. insects) at the expense of indigenous species
In the UK, the plant was first introduced in 1839, at the same time as giant hogweed and Japanese knotweed. These plants were all promoted at the time as having the virtues of "herculean proportions" and "splendid invasiveness" which meant that ordinary people could buy them for the cost of a packet of seeds to rival the expensive orchids grown in the greenhouses of the rich. Within ten years, however, Himalayan balsam had escaped from the confines of cultivation and begun to spread along the river systems of England.
So you can see why it is essential to eliminate this plant from our parks and with a good number of volunteers today, we managed to clear more areas on Leverhulme park so that our native plants to flourish. A huge thank you to all of the volunteers today. You have made a real difference to your local environment!