Unwelcome Invaders

Punting in Cambridge is under threat by an onslaught of a dangerous river weed.

cam punt PUNTING tourism

The River Cam has been invaded by an eyesore that clogs our waterways, stops our fun, and threatens the success of our glorious sports teams.

No, not Oxford University Boat Club but the dreaded Hydrocotyle Ranunculoides (or Floating Pennywort, to people who aren’t Natscis), which is steadily spreading in the Cam according to environmentalists.

The weed is another example of a big brash American import that we could really do without.

As Pennwort grows it forms a blanket over the top of the water, choking the river.

The lack of light and oxygen means the native inhabitants of the river die, and the Cam slowly turns into even more of a dank, festering cesspit.

Pennywort is hard to cure; it grows up to 20cm a day (not bad for a small river plant), and using herbicides might kill everything else as well.

The 'Conservators of the River Cam' have a special boat with super weed killing blades fitted, but it might not be enough.

If the Floating Pennywort makes it further upstream, our ever-enthusiastic rowers would find themselves a little snarled up, although the faster flowing parts of the river are less likely to get infested.

The real threat however has been laid out but a spokesman for the Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs; 'If the problem takes hold around Cambridge the iconic and traditional pastime of punting may have to be stopped due to the health and safety risk of a punting pole or boat getting tangled in floating pennywort.'

Punting is big business in Cambridge, with a turnover of something like £2.5 million a year, and in recent times its image has been blackened by the 'punt wars'

Last year, the wars escalated with an overnight attack with an electric saw on one side’s punts – but maybe the punt merchants are getting distracted from the real threat?