Guiding Service

My guiding services are now available to assist fly fishermen on both game and coarse rivers. I'd be happy to advise and arrange your special day anywhere from one of Derbyshires finest trout and grayling rivers to your own local coarse river. Email Mick Martin for details and options. Please copy and paste into your own email

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Himalayan Balsam

Himalayan Balsam is a veracious plant that is spreading like wildfire along and around our rivers, lakes and waterways. The common name for the plant is Policeman's Helmet due to the pink helmet shaped flowers the plant produces in summer. It can grow to 6ft tall in mass and overshade all vegitation keeping all the light for itself, giving other plant life zero chance of survival. The seed pods when ready explode spitting the seeds everywhere in the vicinity, hence the reason for quickly spreading like fire and taking hold. If you are in doubt, gently touch the pods and they will explode everywhere to confirm their war on your river has begun. Although bees and insects can be seen enjoying the pollen in the flowers during summer and all can appear well, its the foot of the plant that proves to be devastating to our rivers. The H. Balsam roots are very short and small in proportion to the plant, pull one up to see for yourself. The problem caused by this monster plant is the ground is then prevented from knitting together. The ball of roots created by our bank side plants is dissolved and when the H. Balsam dies back in winter, the ground becomes desolate and left wide open to the elements. The problem then results in the banks being easily washed away with flood with nothing binding the earth together.

The way to deal with H. Balsam is once recognised pull from the bottom of the plant and remove root out of the ground, then lay a small distance away from the river to wither and die away. Due to the invasive nature you should arrange working parties to rid your river from this plant and this might take several years to have the desired impact, but will then become easier to control and the battle can be won, however the war will be endless and outlive the likes of you and me I'm afraid. Weedkillers could be used in large areas of H. Balsam but I have no knowledge of this procedure and would prefer to use a little hard work than go down that route. I hope the information above will give a little knowledge to a few about this horrid plant and instead of saying "oh look isn't that Himalayan Balsam" thanks to the EA and WTT we are beginning to learn and understand enough to deal with it. I must say it did cross my mind that removing a policeman's helmet used to be considered a serious offence but now we are all encouraged to remove a few, funny that.

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