Himalayan Balsam is target for Keep Oban beautiful group

Maurice Wilkins

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The new ‘Keep Oban Beautiful’ (KOB) group donned their high-vis vests for the first time on Sunday and set about the invasive Himalayan Balsam along the Black Lynn opposite Tesco.

Although not as difficult to remove as the equally invasive Japanese Knotweed, the balsam has the added advantage of those amazing seedpods which ping when touched, scattering the seed far and wide. It’s an attractive plant and tempting for visitors to take seed home and scatter it in their locality, but the plant is rapidly becoming a major pest in many parts of Britain, particularly along roadsides and water courses, so should be left well alone when in seed.

We can understand why the public might feel that it’s a bad idea to remove a plant which is not only attractive but a good nectar source for bees, but the long term view is to replace it with native species and make the Black Lynn into a wildlife corridor – and maybe someday discuss the possibility of some public access.

Although it’s a tall grower it’s only an annual plant, so pulling it up before it sets seed is a good way of getting rid of it. KOB intends to keep on with this eradication, working with Argyll Knotweed who have made an arrangement with the council to remove the Knotweed along the Black Lynn by injecting the stems, a safer and more effective treatment than spraying.

The council has agreed to supply the relevant chemical and Argyll Knotweed will carry out the work without charge, a job which may take several years. It may be some while before our efforts are obvious, but as the the Chinese philosopher Laozi said around 600BC,

‘A journey of a thousand miles  begins with a single step’! A wise man who knew all about Himalayan Balsam!

Our thanks to those who turned out to help and to Homebase and Buildbase who donated tonne bags to hold the balsam until it rots down.

We’ll be back!

Maurice Wilkins, Keep Oban Beautiful

To get in touch with the group, email: keepobanbeautiful@gmail.com