It grows rapidly and spreads quickly, smothering other vegetation as it goes.
Introduced to the UK in 1839, Himalayan balsam is now a naturalised plant, found especially on riverbanks and in waste places where it has become a problem weed.
Himalayan balsam tolerates low light levels and also shades out other vegetation, so gradually impoverishing habitats by killing off other plants. It is sometimes seen in gardens, either uninvited or grown deliberately, but care must be taken to ensure that it does not escape into the wild.
Himalayan balsam is a tall growing annual, 2-3m (6-10ft) in height. Between June and October it produces clusters of purplish pink (or rarely white) helmet-shaped flowers.
The flowers are followed by seed pods that open explosively when ripe.
Each plant can produce up to 800 seeds. These are dispersed widely as the ripe seedpods shoot their seeds up to 7m (22ft) away.
If you suspect you have Himalayan Balsam on your property, call Weedtec on 0845 224 9941.
The plant is spread by two principal means;
- The most widespread distribution tends to be by human means where individuals pass on seed to friends
- Once established in the catchment of a river the seeds, which can remain viable for two years, are transported further afield by water