Himalayan balsam – time to knock off the policeman’s helmet?

Many of our riverbanks on Dartmoor are lined with a pink flowering plant – the Himalyan balsam. The flowers give off a very strong scent and are very attractive to bees. There are however some problems …… Himalayan balsam was introduced in 1839 to the UK and it has subsequently escaped from formal gardens into the countryside.

It often forms dense stands along rivers and in wet meadows and does a pretty good job at smothering out the native plants beneath. Just take a walk at Parke along the River Bovey and you will see how much Himalayan balsam there is. It is one of our jobs over the coming years to reduce the amount of balsam in the wet meadows.

Himalyan balsamHimalayan balsam or policeman’s helmet!

The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology have produced a fact sheet on the species and a list of ways you can go about getting rid of it – see here.

One thought on “Himalayan balsam – time to knock off the policeman’s helmet?

  1. I’ve been removing HB from the Hooke Valley in Dorset with the Dorset Conservation Volunteers for several years and it’s very invasive, if just the smallest amount is left behind, it takes over again completely the following year. Devon doesn’t treat the situation the same as Dorset, it’s not handled as a biohazard & is not bagged and removed from site, so I’ve been doing the same job in the Valency Valley above Boscastle with North Cornwall NTV & at Parke with Exeter NTV where it is again bagged & removed. In all areas leaving even the slightest trace brings disappointment the year after, or even visiting after a few weeks over the territory carefully combed through before, it’s a most annoying weed. We’ll keep up the fight but we need more volunteers for certain.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s