Evasive weeds that transform riverbanks

To all local anglers the evasive weeds we have experienced over the last decade has transformed the riverbanks to such an extent that you seldom, in some areas, see any native flora.

Much is being done, as we are witnessing with the continuing spraying of Giant Hogweed, on the South Esk and the eradication of Japanese Knotweed on the Bervie and the North Esk.

By far, in recent years, the problem has been the take over of the huge area of the South Esk banks by Himalayan Balsam, a quite attractive plant with its pink blossom, but in our environment it seems intent on taking over huge areas of riverbank and forested areas.

It comes from a very restricted areas of the Himalayas which is strangely familiar to many TV watchers, the Rohtang Pass, that truck graveyard which was a challenge to “The Ice Road Truckers”.

In its native area it is controlled naturally by a “rust” or fungus which is being tested in UK at present.

However, tests will take a few more years so they can test its reaction to our various native plants.

A river in Wales has come up with a very simple but nonetheless effective control method.

They are asking every angler fishing the river Morrow to pull up fifty plants at every visit and it is proving an outstanding success.

But we on the South Esk have a huge job on our hand as the spread has been unbelievable.

I do hope that local proprietors will get together and endorse such a move in the interim and until the Rust/Fungus becomes approved and available.

I was walking up the bank at Dalgetty Farm recently and where the balsam has died back on the riverbank as it does every autumn the ground is left completely bare and was already eroding with the many rainy days we have had over this very mild winter.

This is perhaps a more worrying situation than the flowering plant in summer but it goes further to emphasise the necessity to get a timely control in place.

I know that many anglers go fishing to get away from weeding and other gardening work, but I ask of you now, pull out fifty at every visit and I as sure you will make a difference.

Tight Lines,

by Bill Balfour.