The countryside is not immune to the problem of seeds

Balsam, with its exploding seed capsules. Picture by Tom Pattinson.

Balsam, with its exploding seed capsules. Picture by Tom Pattinson.

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Plants in the countryside are not immune to being crowded out by voracious weeds.

In recent years I’ve noted the gradual invasion of Himalyan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) by Tyelaw Burn, just ten minutes from home.

It’s a close relative of the busy lizzie we use for summer bedding and cultivate in pots for greenhouse display. But this one is a giant that grows well over head height.

The flowers are mainly a purplish pink, but some are white.

It’s an annual, but the number of seeds produced and method of dispersal make it so successful.

There are an estimated 800 seeds per plant and these are propelled by nature’s equivalent of an explosion, the seed pod springing inside-out and flinging them up to seven metres away.

They thrive near waterways so any attempt at chemical control requires permission from the Environment Agency.

I’d opt to follow the example of conservation action groups who pull the plants out by hand before the seed forms.

Frustrating though couch grass, ground elder and other thug-like weeds are in a garden, life could be far worse if Himalayan balsam, Japanese knotweed or Giant hogweed were to suddenly appear.