Volunteer days with the National Citizen Service

Once again we were lucky to have the services of participants in the National Citizen Service in the Jubilee Wood.  The volunteers, aged between 15 and 17, joined us on 2 occasions to help us remove the invasive Himalayan Balsam plant from along the banks of the Moat Brook.   Both groups who took part came from the local area and spent all day with us pulling up the troublesome weeds.

Invasive

This invasive plant has been resident in our country for over 100 years being introduced as a decorative plant.  However, it has now spread along the majority of water courses in England.   It is a relative of the busy Lizzie, but reaches well over head height, and is a major weed problem, especially on riverbanks and waste land, but can also invade gardens. It grows rapidly and spreads quickly, smothering other vegetation as it goes.  Each plant can produce up to 800 seeds. These are dispersed widely as the ripe seedpods shoot their seeds up to 7m (22ft) away.

The plant is spread by two principal means;

  • The most widespread distribution tends to be by human means where individuals pass on seed to friends
  • Once established in the catchment of a river, the seeds, which can remain viable for two years, are transported further afield by water.

The plant is now widespread along the banks of the Moat Brook.  Thanks to the hard work of the NCS volunteers we removed approximately 10,000 plants, an amazing achievement.

Eradication

It is our aim to completely remove Himalayan balsam from the banks of the Moat Brook in Jubilee Wood.  It’s not an easy task as the weed has colonised quickly and has spread over a very large area.  This is the 4th year we have been pulling up the balsam and we are noticing a difference.  However as the plant is so good at  growing we cannot rest on our laurels as it can quickly return if allowed to do so.  This will be an ongoing task which we will need to conduct annually if we are to give our native plants a chance.