Balsam bashing has begun!

Steve has been out with two groups from the Trust of Conservation Volunteers (TCV) over the last couple of weeks making a start on the Himalayan Balsam issue on the reserve.  They’ve been focusing their efforts on patches that are more difficult to access, between willows and in dense groups amongst nettles.  The picture below is of one of these dense patches, and illustrates the reason that balsam outcompetes native flora so effectively.

A patch of balsam

A patch of balsam

It’s essential that it is pulled or treated prior to seeding, as one of its most impressive tricks is its ability to spread its seeds from the small pod seen growing in the picture below next to the flower head.  These pods will eventually explode, spreading dozens of seeds many metres from the source plant, thereby allowing for quick and efficient colonisation.

Himalayan balsam flower and seed pod

Himalayan balsam flower and seed pod

When pulling the balsam, it is important to hang it in trees as seen below, or off the ground, so as to prevent the plant from re-rooting and seeding.  If you happen to come across any of these hanging bunches of balsam, please leave it where it is and accept our apologies for the unsightly views!  Please bear in mind that this is an important conservation task that we are undertaking in order to benefit many native species and habitats.

Himalayan balsam hanging in a tree

Himalayan balsam hanging in a tree

Himalayan Balsam is particularly popular with bees, and because of its strong aroma it can often distract the bees so much that they forget to feed on, and subsequently pollinate native plants.  Steve spent some time trying to capture this particular bee as it dived into another flower for more nectar!

A bumblebee's bum in a balsam flower

A bumblebee’s bum in a balsam flower

We’ll be out on the trail between Kirkgate and Burleigh tomorrow between 11am and 3pm, so if you’d like to help out then please feel free to swing by for an hour, or the duration!

About Craig.Nisbet

Reserve Officer Loch Leven National Nature Reserve Scottish Natural Heritage
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One Response to Balsam bashing has begun!

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