Himalayan Balsam

Himalayan Balsam

Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens Glandulifera) is a non-native invasive plant that commonly grows near waterways, it was introduced to the UK in 1839. Growing up to 3m high Himalayan Balsam is an annual plant; growing from seed, flowering and setting seed within a year before dying. All Himalayan Balsam plants germinate from the previous year’s seed. Himalayan Balsam grows very rapidly which necessitates readily available access to soil moisture which is why it has colonised river banks which have an abundance of moisture and nutrients.

The plant has highly visible pink flowers on fleshy hollow stems that are green in the spring but become red as the year progresses. The elliptical leaves and side branches arise in whorls of 3-5 from stem joints. A distinctive characteristic of the plants are the seed capsules which provide its alternative name ‘Touch-me-not’ Balsam. The capsules open explosively when touched spreading the seeds up to 7 metres enabling the plant to spread and colonise new areas. As an annual it has a very shallow root system, barely adequate for its tremendous height.

It’s easier to identify Himalayan between the months of June and October when it produces its clusters of pink and purple toned flowers. 
Why is Himalayan Balsam so invasive?

  • Himalayan Balsam gradually weakens habitats by shading other vegetation.
  • Each plant can produce up to 800 seeds which can disperse as widely as 7m.
  • Seeds can easily be transported by water.
  • Himalayan Balsam produces pollen over a prolonged season and is attractive to pollinating insects. Its presence may result in decreased pollination for other native plants.

Managing Himalayan Balsam

To remove Himalayan Balsam we offer both non-chemical and chemical methods of control, depending on the site and spread of plants. 

As the plant has shallow roots, it can be removed without chemicals by pulling or digging it out of the ground. 

Control measures should aim to prevent flowering, and are best carried out before June for maximum effectiveness. 

Methods of Control 

Cultural – Cutting, strimming or pulling on a regular basis for about three years will be effective and may even eradicate the plant from isolated sites.

Chemical – Himalayan Balsam tends to grow near water and therefore the selection of an appropriate herbicide is limited. 4th Corner follow the strict Guidance Notes for the use of herbicides near water that are published by the Environment Agency.  Spraying needs to occur before the plant starts to flower but after the seed leaves have disappeared to ensure that all the plants available for germination can be controlled. 

Each individual project is managed by a dedicated member of our Operations Team, who will oversee the programme.4th Corner are SafeContractor approved and are accredited to the government’s TrustMark scheme. We are also members of the Association of Professional Landscapers and British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI). Our teams of experts are also LANTRA Certified.