Himalayan Balsam colonises areas rapidly and quickly outcompetes the surrounding vegetation and reduces diversity. Himalayan Balsam is an annual plant; growing from seed, flowering and setting seed within a year before dying. All Himalayan balsam plants germinate from the previous years seed. Annual plants do not have the need for extensive root systems. Himalayan Balsam grows very rapidly which necessitates readily available access to soil moisture which is why it has colonised river banks which have an abundance of moisture and nutrients. This causes a problem because Himalayan Balsam does not have an extensive root system and it is crowding out perennial plants that bind the river banks with their root systems. During flood events the river banks are then vulnerable to floodwater because of the lack of perennial plants. There are also claims that the height of the plant causes a problem by restricting the flow of the river. It is, however, a good nectar plant for bees and wasps in late summer.
Himalayan Balsam is not a native species to the UK originating, as the name implies, in the Himalayas. The seeds of Himalayan Balsam are viable for up to two years and are commonly transported in waterways. The first indications that this would be a potentially invasive plant were the county Floras showing Himalayan Balsam tracing the line of waterways through the counties. Himalayan Balsam is tolerant of shade and it is now impossible to map the location of rivers using distribution maps of Himalayan Balsam because it has moved into woodland habitats and moist soils too.
If you want to help reclaim the Torrs Riverside Park, the Picker and Mousley Bottom from Himalayan Balsam then please join one of these sessions.
Saturday 18th July,11:00-13:00, The Picker, meet at old Pineapple Pub, Salem Bridge
Sunday 19th July, 10:30-12:30, Mousley Bottom, meet at DCC Rangers Hut
Sunday 26th July, 11:00-13:00, Mousley Bottom, meet at DCC Rangers Hut
Everyone who attends will be entered into the raffle for coffee and cake for 4, and other prizes.