Stamford RiverCare has been waging war on Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifer), an invasive plant species found on the banks of the River Welland in Stamford. It might look pretty, but it really is a nasty piece of work, as it outcompetes native plant species. Stamford RiverCare is not alone in its hatred for the weed, the Environment Agency has included it in their top 10 'most wanted' species, ranking it at number 6.
Originating in the Western Himalayas and introduced to Britain in 1839, Himalayan Balsam escaped from gardens and rapidly colonised riverbanks and areas of damp ground. It not only towers over native species, inhibiting growth but it also accelerates bank erosion (potentially leading to flooding) when it dies away in the autumn. Thirdly, the pretty pink flowers of the Balsam lure Bumblebees and other insects away from pollinating native species. You can start to understand why we all dislike it so much!
Whilst it is possible to poison the Balsam with herbicide, we have found the most environmentally friendly and fun way to get rid of it is to simply pull it out and compost it. And we ARE making a difference - in 2012, 2013 and 2014 we had notably less balsam along our stretch of the Welland.
Our regular summer “pulling” sessions are a great way to enjoy the River Welland and we are always keen to have more volunteers. For further information, please see Task Days and Evenings, or email firstname.lastname@example.org