Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Frilford Heath SSSI, 1st September 2012

A pleasant and crucially, rain-free Saturday morning was spent once again at Frilford Heath, our last session of the year at this particular site.  As usual for this location, Himalayan Balsam pulling was the order of the day.
Approaching the site, it became clear to the seven volunteers that despite all the hard work put in during the year, the battle against the Balsam is far from won!  Large swathes of the plant still exist, to the detriment of the native species.  However, real signs of progress are also very apparent.  

We concentrated our efforts at the far-end of the site, the same area that we have largely focused on during other, recent sessions.  With only a small group this time, only a limited area could be covered, but much effort was put in to ensure that the plant was cleared as far as possible at least in this particular spot.  

The task was complicated by the fact that at this time of year, the Balsam has developed seeds.  These had to be collected for destroying before removing the plant so that scattering and re-seeding for next year was limited as far as possible.  If touched or moved, the seed pods spring open, launching the seeds some considerable distance.  Up to 7m is the maximum recorded distance.  Quite an impressive biological mechanism or somewhat of an annoyance, depending upon one's perspective!  Each seed pod has between 4 and 16 seeds and can remain viable for up to two years.

This is likely to be the last Balsam pulling session of the year - much to the relief of some members who will be keen to partake in a greater variety of tasks in the coming weeks!
-Andrew

the large stack of Himalayan Balsam, pulled on a previous session at Frilford Heath on 14th July

Lauren demonstrates how large the Himalayan Balsam plant can grow!

Andrew removing Balsam from a stream

Himalayan Balsam seed pods and seeds.  Note explosive seed release devices (the springy-looking bits!)



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