Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Let Battle Commence....(the ongoing work to eradicate Himalayan Balsam.)

At Millerground, nationally scarce native Touch-Me-Not Balsam seedlings are starting to appear. 

Unfortunately, seeds washed down-steam last Autumn have allowed non-native invasive Himalayan Balsam seedlings to be  present as well... encroaching on Touch-Me-Not. (see image below taken April 4th.)
The cotyledon, the embryonic leaves in seed bearing plants (see above) are the first leaves to appear from a germinating seed..

Even at this very early stage it is possible to spot which are the native plants and which are invasive!
To give the Touch-Me-Not seedlings their best chance the Himalayan balsam seedlings have been pulled up..Hard to believe that in a few short months these seedlings would have had the ability to grow upwards of 10 feet tall with one plant producing approximately 800 seeds!

 Himalayan Balsam is by far the tallest annual plant in the UK and will easily out-compete Touch-Me-Not, and indeed, other annual plants...
Above is an image of Himalayan Balsam taken in late June; this large woodland stand has become a mono-culture in that no other plants can grow such is its dominance.
Early to mid Summer is the usual time to start control work before the plants have a chance to set seed.
Strimming can be highly effective.
In this image the Himalayan Balsam has been pulled up by hand and then snapped below the bottom node. 

If  left on on the ground intact Himalayan Balsam can sprout new roots and survive very easily.
The image above is of Touch-Me-Not balsam also taken in late June. Under the right circumstances it too can form a mono-culture but in much smaller stands than its invasive cousin.
As mentioned in previous posts Touch-Me-Not Balsam is the food plant for the rare 
Netted Carpet moths' caterpillars.
Finally here is an image of a Netted Carpet Moth on Touch-Me-Not Balsam.

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