Himalayan balsam is an annual plant which was introduced during Victorian times. A fast growing plant it really enjoys our Welsh climate.
There is a growing recognition that this is a problem plant which is causing chaos in our fields, hedgerows and particularly along river banks. Increasing amounts of it are being seen around Llansadwrn and we should be concerned as our local countryside is stunning and rich in wildlife but this is a real threat to it.
This annual rapidly out-competes native plants leaving no diversity and when it dies back in early autumn it leaves the soil bare and vulnerable to erosion.
One thing which has been in its favour was the food it offered to bees however the lack of plant diversity is not great for them either.
It spreads quickly and forms dense thickets, altering the ecological balance and character of wetland habitats. The explosive nature of its seed release (seeds can be projected up to four meters away) means it can spread upstream as well as downstream. There is concern that its presence results in decreased pollination for other native plants.
This species is listed on Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act in England and Wales therefore, it is also an offence to plant or otherwise cause to grow these species in the wild.
What can you do?
When you see the plant you should pull it and break off the root. They are easy to remove and deal with.
Hanging it to dry out in trees also helps kill off the plant.
You can also plant your garden with other later flowering species to improve conditions for wildlife.
Some of the native species that provide the later nectar that bees require include:
Rosebay willow herb
Fox and cubs
Lesser bird’s foot trefoil
St John’s wort
In your garden you can also include
Abelia ‘Edward Goucher’
Butterfly bush. Buddleia davidii
Myrtle. Myrtus communis