Often found on riverbanks, beside water courses and on wasteland or damp woodland. Himalayan Balsam is a much larger relation of the busy Lizzie and survives in low light conditions often shading and killing off other plants.
What is Himalayan balsam?
Himalayan balsam is the largest annual plant in Britain, introduced to the UK in 1839. Invading huge areas of land causing problems by rapidly spreading and smothering other vegetation as it goes. The flowers are followed by seed pods that open explosively when ripe. Each plant can produce up to 800 seeds which can last up to 2 years. These are dispersed widely as the ripe seedpods shoot their seeds up to 7m (22ft) away.
The plant is spreads rapidly either via human means or, dependent on its location, it can be transported further afield by water.
How can I identify Himalayan balsam?
- An attractive plant with trumpet shaped flowers that vary in colour from very light pink (almost white) to a dark pink/purple with a strong scent.
- Seedpods tend to appear June – October as hang on red stems.
- Seedpods are green and contain many green or brown seeds which eventually turn black as they mature.
- Releases seeds explosively – even touching can trigger this.
- Stems are hollow, quite fleshy and brittle with sap through the centre. Growing to a maximum of 3m high with green to red at first, becoming more red in summer.
- Leaves are slender in shape and almost elliptical. Stretching up to 15cm in length growing from the stem joints with finely serrated edges.
- Leaves form in whorls of 3-5 and may have a red mid-rib through the leaf.
- Shallow roots with a distinctive tight knit structure.
How to deal with Himalayan Balsam
Ask for help and advice before the Himalayan Balsam starts to flower or go to seed, April – May is perfect time to take action.
If you feel you may have identified a plant to be Himalayan Balsam,
please contact us today to speak to one of our experts to see how we can help you.