Bash some balsam to rid wetland of Bizzy Lizzie's relative

PUBLISHED: 13:02 09 June 2009 | UPDATED: 23:39 15 June 2010

WHO would have thought that a relative of the Busy Lizzie could be causing such havoc along our river banks and pathways?

WHO would have thought that a relative of the Busy Lizzie could be causing such havoc along our river banks and pathways? Himalayan Balsam is known by a wide variety of common names, including Indian Balsam, Jumping Jack and Policeman's Helmet. Unfortunately, it tolerates low light levels and tends to shade out other vegetation, which leads to poor, impoverished habitats. The Balsam is tall and robust, producing annual clusters of purplish pink helmet-shaped flowers which, although poetically described by some as having the 'ripe smell of peaches', by many others its bouquet is thought to be pungent and 'heady'. The flowers are followed by seed pods that open explosively when ripe, shooting their seeds up to 7m (22ft) away. When it was originally introduced to the UK in 1839 Himalayan Balsam was thought to be tender (and only grown in greenhouses) but now it is recognised as the rampant invader it really is!The Axe Wetlands is as vulnerable to invasion as anywhere else, so there are two work parties planned where volunteers can help rid the area of this tyrannical weed and help preserve some of the rarer plant species. The sessions are on Friday, June 12, and Friday, July 10, both running from 10am until 4pm. Please meet at Colyford Memorial Hall, where parking is available, and don't forget to bring a packed lunch, sun/rain protection and stout footwear or wellies is recommended. Please phone East Devon District Council's Countryside Service on (01395) 517557 if you have any queries.

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