During my new Job, I've been exploring a lot more ground and expanding my familiar range. Last week we ended up in Crickhowel where I was shocked to find so much Himalayan Balsam and I know several spots already along the Brec & Mon Canal which are pretty bad for this invasive plant. I thought Japanese Knotweed was bad but the extent of damage is beyond so from what I have seen these last two weeks. Even today, a little closer to home alongside the River Usk, I as shocked to see so much of the stuff.
So why are they a problem? Well, like Japanese Knotweed, the plant has very large leaves and spreads out tightly allowing very little to grow underneath which kills or prevents other native species of plant from growing. The way in which these plants spread is also very problematic and like Knoteweed, they've taken full advantage of our waterways, rivers, canals, streams, anything that can carry the seeds elsewhere to spread.
The other problem isn't a very obvious one but when the plants flower, they do attract our native bees wasps and other pollinators. Why is that a problem? Well time spent pollinating Balsam, is time spent away from pollinating our native flowers which are already struggling because of lack of soil.
These plants are invasive in every way and should be dealt with, with high priority conservation concern. If you spot this yourself, please report it to your local biodiversity recording centre where professionals can take the neccessary measures to remove them.
Unless it's early on in the year, don't bother trying to remove them yourself as you could be causing more damage by spreading the seeds. It's better to uproot them and dispose as early as possible to prevent breakouts and to allow other plants to grow.