Published On: Tue, Jul 22nd, 2014 on 10:45 am

The Himalayan Balsam: Invasive weed threatens Calderdale wildlife

Himalayan Balsam

The Himalayan Balsam weed

Calderdale residents have been asked to help pull up a weed that is posing a threat to local wildlife.

People have been urged to organise ‘Balsam bashing’ events to stop the Himalayan Balsam weed, which has been spreading through woodlands and open spaces.

With the ability to grow up to 10ft (3m) tall, the weed looks appealing to the eye, and produces clusters of purplish pink (or rarely white) helmet-shaped flowers found on riverbanks and wasteland in particular.

Calderdale Council’s Countryside Officer, Chris Sutcliffe, told the Yorkshire Standard: “Himalayan Balsam is an invasive weed from Asia which is spreading rapidly through Calderdale’s woodlands, open spaces and riverbanks, and is a serious threat to our natural environment.

“The weed spreads quickly and takes over our native flora, and if it was left to do this, bees and other insects would have less plants to eat and would struggle to pollinate, resulting in a decline in their numbers.”

The Balsam weed can invade gardens and spreads naturally, which is why it is commonly found in damp soil on riverbanks and in the woodlands.

It doesn’t pose a threat to people, but when it dies off it leaves the soil exposed, so when it rains, it gets washed away that can increase the risk of flooding.

Two ‘Balsam bashing’ sessions are being held to fight the weed at North Dean Woods, Greetland, on 23 July and Shibden Park, Halifax, on 26 July.

The Council’s Community Task Force is also helping young unemployed volunteers carry out environmental work experience.

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