It’s pretty – it’s pink and it’s a pest – oh no! It’s HIMALAYAN BALSAM!
It may have nice pink flowers, but the nationwide invasion of our waterways by this plant has meant that other native species have been forced out to the detriment of biodiversity along our streams, rivers and canals. It proliferates through the spreading of thousands of seeds in an ‘explosion’ of the seed pod, which are then carried along the watercourse.
AMAS members have been active through the summer, working to manage this monster. We’ve been out on Canal & River Trust workdays alongside their volunteers and members of the Leicestershire branch of the Inland Waterways Association, with City Council groups and in informal groups of AMAS members.
It’s best to pull the plant up to prevent later sprouting, but they come up so easily, there’s a kind of satisfaction in it! Last year and this summer we have worked on the canal between Marsden Lane and Mill Lock and it’s great to see that there is very little balsam in that area.
If you want to know more about Himalayan Balsam, please read the IWA fact sheet and the article by Ross Clement. Ross is a one man balsam basher – he works tirelessly to remove the plant from waterways in Leicester and knows all there is to know about the stuff.
Watch out on Facebook and on the Events page of the AMAS website for information about upcoming workdays.