Volunteering: A Tale of Three Species

Note: Entri mengarut.

Here is the story, based on actual case.

Yesterday I went volunteering again, this time the task is described as pulling out weed in Clayton Park. It happened that the park was absolutely marvellous, so though it was supposed to be a physical job, it was therapeutic. Seriously it is. No kidding. Not much of a park, but a little more like a jungle. De-stressing it was, walking through the path towards the area.

So Himalayan Balsam, let me describe it here as an antagonist, the villain. Do not be deceived by the beautiful, red flowers, this species is actually very invasive. Very aggressive in seed dispersal, it can outgrow any other plants nearby, so it is best, said the Groundwork person, to pull them out in order to save other wild species. So she brought us to this area full of this bad Himalayan Balsam.

Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera)

It was supposed to be physical task, but the most exercised part of my body throughout that four hours was my mouth and tongue – pulling out the weed did not require much energy, but keeping up the conversation with my mates was. But still, the weather was lovely, my friends were nice, I enjoyed it.

It was enjoyable indeed, until I felt a little pain on my hand. I took a look, it was already reddish, my skin. I tried to ignore, but it seemed to hurt me (not that much actually, but for the sake of this entry, let’s make it more dramatic), so I mentioned about it to Kirsty the MLP person accompanying us.

She said, it’s the nettle, you’ve been stung. Oh, OK, I said, never mind. She said it’s gonna be fine after a while, and yes it did, unless you touch it constantly like I did. She was also stung, and she said we should try to find dock leaves, which can be a cure for the pain. That’s great, I said. So I’ve learnt about a few species of creatures today -Himalayan Balsam, dock leaves and this insect called nettle.

Well, my first guess was that nettle is some kind of insect that bites, but when I asked Kirsty to show me what the thing called nettle:

Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica)

Hoho. It is a flowering plant actually, and it stings.

And Carol (or was it Carolyn?), the Groundworks person came with the dock leaves for us as the remedy for the nettle’s evil deed.

Broad-leaved Dock (Rumex obtusifolius).

And after a few minutes, I was healed (I really mean it, the mosquito-bite look-alike inflammation was gone!). So I can pull the weed peacefully, though I now changed my mind -the balsam was not that bad. I was trying to save the nettle from being invaded, but it stang me – twice actually. Worst was the second one was received while I was already out of dock leaves supply.

I went back home, and was laughed at by my housemates for being stung by a plant.


Moral of the story:

Never judge a book by its cover, never judge a plant by its flower.

Dogs do bite the hands that feed them, nettle does sting the hands that try to save them.

p.s. Nettle was not that bad actually, I now remember that I have once , drank herbal tea made of nettle leaves.



  1. well, reminded me of my conservation days, when i was a student @ bristol.

    well, i happened to experience the stinging plant as well, but of course, being myself, after few years, i have forgotten the names.

    In fact, when i went to rathlin island, there were few rare flowers that you could not find in many places on earth, and i forgot the name also.

    the names were gone when my ex-gf burnt all my travelogue.. huhu..

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