Locals tackle riverbank invasion

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It may look pretty, but it is deadly. The pink/purple flowered Himalayan Balsam is a highly invasive plant species, which is currently attacking the native plants and vegetation our local rivers.

It may look pretty, but it is deadly. The pink/purple flowered Himalayan Balsam is a highly invasive plant species, which is currently attacking the native plants and vegetation our local rivers.

Long stretches of the Nore, Suir and Barrow have become infested with the ‘Impatiens glandulifera’. The plant is in full flower now, and time is ticking before it goes to seed at the end of July.

Once that happens, 2,500 seeds per plant will be dispersed up to five metres from each plant, further propagating its spread through the countryside and colonising Kilkenny’s riverbanks.

One local group is now trying to do something about it, and organised a ‘balsam bashing’ expedition recently in Inistioge. The group is made up mainly of Tidy Towns volunteers, recently motivated and activated for this unusual project.

Inistioge-based wildlife photographer Brendan Marnell warned of the danger the weed poses.

“It devastates river bank habitat by allowing natural flooding to erode river banks and thereby the nesting holes for kingfishers, dippers, grey wagtails and it excludes insect life that fish and other wildlife feed on from native riparian vegetation,” he said.

The group is trying pull up as much of the weed as possible, which is relatively easy to do with gloves on, and not toxic. They need all the support they can get, and are now calling for volunteers, teens and adults, to clear any amount of the weed they can before it goes to seed at the end of the month.