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Wednesday, 17 August 2016

National park tackles invasive plants

Himalayan Balsam. Photo by Nan Sykes.
The North York Moors national park is tackling non-native plant species on the Esk, Seph and Rye river catchments throughout September.

The Yorkshire Water-funded programme will tackle Japanese knotweed and Himalayan balsam which pose a threat to native plants and animals.

Both types are garden escapees capable of spreading rapidly along watercourses. These vigorous species smother native plants during the summer, before dying back in the winter leaving the river bank without any stabilising vegetation and the banks are therefore more vulnerable to erosion.

River Esk project officer Simon Hirst said: “These plants may look pretty but they can be a real menace on our river banks, crowding out native species and increasing erosion.

“It’s a real team effort to tackle the intruders, and we’re really lucky to have such great volunteers and businesses happy to help us on this important project.

"It will take a few years to totally eradicate these plants but there are signs that native vegetation is starting to recolonise those areas that have been treated.”

Himalayan balsam has a sickly, sweet smell, pink flowers and a bright green hollow stem. It can grow up to two metres tall and has explosive seed pods capable of firing seeds up to seven metres.

Japanese knotweed grows to around three metres tall and has large alternate heart shaped leaves and a characteristic zigzag stem covered in purple speckles. Its flowers, which appear in late summer, consist of clusters of tiny creamy-white flowers.

To report any sightings of these plants along the river catchments, people should call 01439 772700 or email

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