Small ads

Discarded Himalayan Balsam

From Ruth L

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Kudos to those who are still uprooting the invading Himalayan balsam plants.  But can I ask you to please be mindful of how you dispose of them? They are being left strewn on roadsides, paths and pavements, and they become a hazard for walkers, especially when wet, as they get mashed into slime as people walk across them.

In particular the Buttress is in a bad state at the moment - in some parts there is discarded balsam strewn across the entire width of the lane, which is already a dodgy walk in less than clement weather. (For those who don't know, the Buttress is a steep cobbled lane that heads up towards Heptonstall from central Hebden Bridge.)  The Heptonstall road going up from where it forks off from Lee Wood Road is also problematic.

The answer probably doesn't lie in piling the stuff at the edges of paths either, as dogs, kids and weather will strew it across anyway.

I am particularly concerned because I have an enduring dodgy back, and one slip or trip on discarded balsam could leave me in significant pain for weeks.

From Graham Ramsden

Monday, 11 August 2014

Agree with the above comments re Balsam and would add that the same problem is caused by removal of Oxford Ragwort by equestrians and others who complain about it's presence on the roadside verges and fields but seem to dump it on the road and footpaths where it will still produce viable seed.  Better to remove from site than cause problems for other users.

From Anne Williams

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

It's quite common to find that someone has pulled out a few balsam plants and dropped them on a road or path, leaving a hazard to walkers, while leaving hundreds of plants still standing alongside. Pulling a handful of plant doesn't make much difference and can be a nuisance. With a bit of effort its quite easy to deal with a large patch, just don't leave it where people can slip on it. The bees quite like it though, so perhaps we should leave a bit.

Ragwort is often better left standing, as I understand horses won't normally touch it when growing, but will eat it if it's cut and dried.

From Graham Barker

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

I think we have to accept that the balsam has won, and that yanking a few plants out and dumping them on footpaths is both futile and somewhat antisocial.

Judging by this Royal Horticultural Society page it seems as though contact chemical control is the only realistic and low-impact solution.

As it needs permissions, a professional approach and a lot of determination, I wonder if this is something Hebden Royd Council can consider as a possible community project? I'd be happy to do my bit but it looks like work that needs trained rather than just willing volunteers.

From Rob Blake

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

You can't start a thread about this on the Hebweb without me putting in my two penneth!

Himalayan Balsam is living on borrowed time in the UK.

CABI have been testing a rust fungus that has co-evolved with Balsam in the Himalayas. They have applied for a government license to release it in the UK.

Before anybody starts going on about cane toads, it must be said that the team at CABI really know what they are doing. Observations have shown that although some pollinators like the plant, it has an extremely detrimental effect on ecosystems as a whole, and almost totally destroys resident invertebrate populations.

The aim is to reduce but not completely wipe out the plant, and tests indicate that the rust fungus should do the job. Very detailed information may be found by following these links:

The Food and Envionment Research Agency - Consultation on the release of Puccinia komarovii var. glandulifera against Himalayan balsam.

CABI - Biological control of Himalayan balsam

Natural History Museum - Clever enemy could control invasive plant pest

Himalayan Balsam and its impact on UK invertebrates

From Dave H

Friday, 15 August 2014

I just have to disagree that pulling out a few plants is 'futile'. It may be anti-social to discard them on the path, but that aside I have the philosophy that for every plant effectively removed, that's 15-20 less plants to tackle next year... then the year after - 100, and so on. Matters related to 'conservation' are often like that.

There's a story that sums it up nicely. The gist is that two people are on a beach watching baby turtles hatch and try to get to the sea. Crows and gulls are hoovering them up in huge quantities, but one of the men starts trying to help a few into the sea. The first person says "Why bother? You're not making a real difference in the scheme of things". So the second person replies, whilst dropping another turtle into the sea "Well it sure made a difference to that one".

From Rob Blake

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

So it seems that both the UK and EU governments have approved CABI's application to test the rust fungus. See the letter from yesterday's Guardian.

From Ruth L

Sunday, 14 September 2014

I've kept forgetting to post a thank you to the Buttress bike race people, who cleared up all the discarded balsam, plus other fallen debris, from the Buttress last Saturday. OK, it was for their own race, but it benefitted a lot of other people too.

I'm not keen on mountain bikers because of extensive damage to local paths, but this time you did good, so thanks, guys.

From Andy M

Monday, 15 September 2014

Ruth - A bit off topic but I feel that I have to challenge you on your statment. 'Extensive' MTB damage'? Not in my experience riding and walking around the Calder valley.