Himalayan Balsam, a naturalised plant first introduced into England in 1838, is spreading like wildfire again according to a local nature enthusiast Christine Geary. Nearly 200 years on, it is considered a weed problem especially around waterways.
Christine said, “My main concern with the balsam is that it is invasive, spreads along waterways and can overwhelm and replace other vegetation, for example that needed by our watervoles whose population is declining. It therefore has the potential to destroy watervole habitat along the Test and other streams.”
PULL UP! PULL UP!
Along with other volunteers, Christine pulled up many of the balsam plants on the Meadow and put them on the paths so that they could be mowed, which appears to prevent them regrowing – Christine says it appears to her that roots grow out along the uprooted stem and form new plants along its length.
Although several of us worked very hard to try to pull the balsam up before it seeded we ran out of time in some places, particularly close to the fence alongside Winchester Road, and we did not tackle the large area between the stream and the Mill which was full of balsam. I think these two areas are in particular need of attention.
You can help by pulling up any Himalayan Balsam that you see growing, and placing them on the paths where they will eventually be mowed.
More information about the Himalayan Balsam is on the Millennium Meadow website HERE.