Himalayan balsam was introduced to the UK in 1839 as an ornamental garden plant but quickly escaped into the wild.
It prefers damp conditions, so is often found along river banks and in woodland.
What’s the problem?
Himalayan balsam is a major problem in an ecologically sensitive area such as the Eden catchment as it:
- Overshades and outcompetes smaller, native plants. Over time, native species die, leaving only balsam.
- Covers a large area so when it dies back in winter it leaves bare, exposed river banks at risk of erosion, and
- Produces lightweight seeds that are easily carried by wind and water – spreading the problem downstream.
Winning the war against Himalayan balsam
The good news is that it is easy to pull out the plant and kill it before the seeds explode and it can be wiped out by tackling the same area for a few days each summer over a couple of years.
Eden Rivers Trust and our volunteers have been working in the Trout Beck catchment over the last couple of years to tackle Himalayan balsam and reduce its spread downstream.
BASH the balsam – for kids!
We’ve produced a colourful book for children that includes a poem, Adventurous Salmon game and lots of information about Himalayan balsam – what it is, where it came from, why it is such a problem and what can be done about it.
…and St. Bede’s Catholic Primary in Carlisle has made a film about the book!