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Pretty pink weed is choking the Shropshire countryside

By Sue Austin | Oswestry | News | Published:

An invasive plant is taking over verges, watercourses and even complete fields across Shropshire.

Volunteers have been working to pull up the Himalayan Balsam in parts of the county as part of the Shropshire Wildlife Trust's river project.

However a couple who live near Oswestry say that the plant is still choking the natural vegetation.

Dr Steve and Mrs Heather Bond, from Pant Glas, say a field close to their home, is now over run with the Himalayan Balsam.

"This non-native, invasive plant is fast becoming widespread and a major threat to our native wildlife. Here in north Shropshire, the majority of our waterways are full of it, and we also see it in roadside verges and along watercourses.

"It is choking the streams and threatening not only our plant species, but also the habitats of water voles, otters and others."

They said that it was easy to deal with the problem.

Himalayan Balsam

"Although Himalayan Balsam is very easy to pull out before it seeds, persuading people to do so in their own areas is difficult because 'its flowers are pretty'.

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"A concerted effort is needed to bring this threat to the widest possible audience so that something can be done before it is too late.

"Two years ago, a field near us had no Himalayan Balsam in it, today it has a forest."

Shropshire Wildlife Trust's Clun and Bishop's Castle branch held a working party earlier this year to deal with the problem in local water courses.

The trust said: "Himalayan Balsam was introduced as a garden plant in 1839, but soon escaped and became widely naturalised along riverbanks and ditches, especially close to towns. It is fast-growing and spreads quickly, invading wet habitat at the expense of other, native flowers. Its explosive seed pods aid its spread by sending the seeds into the river, causing further dispersal downstream.

"As its name suggests, Himalayan Balsam is from the Himalayas. It is now an invasive weed of riverbanks and ditches, where it prevents native species from growing."

Sue Austin

By Sue Austin
Chief Reporter

Chief reporter of the Oswestry/Mid Wales office. Keen to hear your news.

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