Flora and fauna – Goosegrass and other regrets

Flora and fauna – Goosegrass and other regrets


It will have been in the mid-60’s on a school geography field trip looking at flood plains on the Goyt in Stockport when I was first surprised by Himalayan balsam, its popping wriggling seedpods entertaining the whole class far more than any ox-bow lake. Oh dear and apologies to New Mills Balsam Bashers. I believe the stuff was used in cotton production way back when (though this may be a load of bollsom) and it’s now a major problem in the UK, shading out our native wildflowers.

I don’t think we were solely to blame mind.


Much later came the family and grandchildren…walking the Sett Valley Trail with them was, and still is excellent fun until the discovery of goosegrass (proper name – ‘cleavers’). It was a fab trick to shove a handful onto the little-one’s jumper and see the wonder at its stickiness (lots of tiny hairs)…so wonderful that they insisted on bringing great wreaths of the stuff back to the garden to show parents, grandparents et al.

What a laugh. If I don’t keep an eye out the garden is now choked with fast-growng swathes that caterpillars turn their noses up at.


We all know stickybobs. These fantastically efficient hooked seedheads of the burdock plant are an irresistable attraction. Use them in one of two ways: if there are a number of you can have a war with them, but I prefer the subtle approach of a covert chucking of individual bobs.

Oh how my wife laughs when we arrive at the pub for a little refreshment.


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