IWA Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Branch – Himalayan Balsam Work Party

Issue date: 17th July 2013

Members of IWA Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Branch spent a productive day pulling up Himalayan Balsam growing in the vicinity of Falling Sands Bridge on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal on Friday 5th July.  As well as the branch members who turned out to lend a hand, two passers-by were interested enough to join in for an hour or two, and everyone’s help was much appreciated. 

The area had been identified last year as having particularly extensive spread of Himalayan Balsam, and the massive quantity of plants pulled up during the work party should allow native plants to thrive again in this area.  Some of the plants had reached over 9ft tall and the thickness of some of the stems was several inches in diameter, showing just how aggressively this plant can grow in the right conditions. 

The work was carried out in brilliant sunshine and the volunteers enjoyed the sight of the steam trains passing by on the nearby Severn Valley Railway viaduct. Whilst clearing the Himalayan Balsam on the area of ground between the canal and the river, volunteers were interested to discover an old tank with some form of water pump, possibly for pumping water from the river into the canal. The tank had been completely surrounded by Himalayan Balsam but is now more visible to passers by. 

Branch members have also been clearing the Himalayan Balsam growing around Mitton Chapel Bridge in Stourport. The Branch intend to repeat the exercise at Falling Sands for the next two years, as the seeds can live in the ground for 2 or 3 years, as well as extending the area covered down to Falling Sands Lock, where there is much more of this invasive plant growing between the canal and the River Stour and on the offside of the lock.