Volunteers tackle riverbank raider
By Nicky Carter - Reporter
A GROUP of volunteers spent a humid morning by the River Tees ridding a section of the bank side of Himalayan balsam, an invasive weed, which has become more widespread.
Geoff King, of Trees for Teesdale, and nine volunteers spent the morning uprooting the troublesome plant from the bank side between the weir and the Silver Bridge.
Himalayan Balsam is an invasive non-native plant, which was introduced to the United Kingdom by Victorian collectors at the same time as Japanese hogweed.
The balsam plant, which has delicate pink flowers, can grow up to two metres in height, but it smothers everything around it and when it dies in the autumn, it leaves nothing but mud.
Mr King said: “Each seed head can contain up to 200 seeds and it has an aggressive seed dispersal reach of up to four metres, so it’s important to try and get rid of them before they mature.
“Until there is a biological way of dealing with the plant we have to continue pulling them.”
He added: “It’s relatively simple to uproot them, but you need to break the stalk from the rootball otherwise they can re-root. We’re probably a little late this year as some of the seed pods are mature, but we do what we can.”
The volunteers also cleared the area of Ragwort, another invasive weed, though this was bagged and taken away.