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New Invasive on the Block

This spring, behind Kinross Creek Co-op, along the Red Alder Trail, I noticed a new weed
sprouting. By May, it had formed a dense carpet along the east exit of Kinross Creek and was
extending, in patches, down the trail. It grew as tall as a foot in height, had light green
elongated leaves growing in a cluster, and little yellow flowers extending from the top.
I grew curious to know what kind of weed this was, as it seemed to be prolific.

In a bit of serendipity, our Free the Fern member, Sylvia, was walking up the trail after the
end of our recent Free the Fern meeting and spotted the weed. She said that it looked like
Himalayan Balsam or “policeman’s helmet” which she has helped remove from several local
parks. When it comes to seed, this plant will spring seeds down the trail.

When I got home, I did a bit more research, and discovered that this weed is actually a
relative to the Himalayan balsam, and is, in fact, called small balsam or small touch-me-not.
While the Himalayan balsam has purple flowers, the small balsam has yellow flowers.
Originally from Asia, it has now become an introduced, invasive species to BC. As Sylvia
surmised, it does have capsules of many seeds that will eject themselves at the slightest
touch. Luckily, most of the small balsam plants had not yet gone to seed, and, with their
shallow root system, they would be relatively easy to pull out by hand.

The next day, with the support of Free the Fern member, Damian, we set to work removing
the small balsam plants. If we could successfully remove most of the plants before they went
to seed, then we would reduce the number that would regrow the next year.

After approximately 6 hours of work, over 3 days, and the support of another Free the Fern
member, Kiki, we managed to fill 5 green bins, and successfully clear most of the visible
plants adjacent to Kinross Creek Co-op. Success!