Invasive species engulfs Lionthorn woods

Volunteers are needed to clearup the Himalayan balsam, which destroys native wildflowers
Volunteers are needed to clearup the Himalayan balsam, which destroys native wildflowers

The Himalayan balsam may seem like a pretty pink flower, but it is sweeping across Lionthorn woods and “choking out” native wildflowers in the process.

The plant is a relative of the busy Lizzie, but can grow to three or four feet high and is a major weed problem.

Two local residents pulled out over 4500 stalks in a small ten by ten metre area, and Isabel Fairgrieve said that is just “a drop in the ocean”.

Isabel and her husband, who live in Lionthorn, decided to start a pick but over three mornings were unable to make substantial progress, so are calling on the public to help on Saturday, July 21.

Isabel said: “It’s a huge problem. It starts on riverbanks but then it spreads horrendously quickly.

“You think it’s not doing much harm, that it’s just a pretty pink plant, but because there are so many stalks within a condensed area none of our native wild flowers can survive, they are just choked out.

“It’s bad news for biodiversity because all you end up with is masses of one plant.”

Isabel has organised a community clearup on Saturday, July 21 at 10am, and has asked for volunteers to come along and help with the efforts, meeting at Lionthorn Community Woodland car park off Lionthorn Road.

Volunteers should bring gardening gloves and come wearing wellingtons boots, long sleeved tops and long trousers.