Himalayan Balsam

©Amy Lewis

Himalayan balsam

Scientific name: Impatiens glandulifera
As its name suggests, Himalayan balsam is from the Himalayas and was introduced here in 1839. It now an invasive weed of riverbanks and ditches, where it prevents native species from growing.

Species information

Statistics

Height: up to 2m

Conservation status

Invasive, non-native species.

When to see

July to October

About

Himalayan balsam was introduced as a garden plant in 1839, but soon escaped and became widely naturalised along riverbanks and ditches, especially close to towns. It is fast-growing and spreads quickly, invading wet habitat at the expense of other, native flowers. Its explosive seed pods aid its spread by sending the seeds into the river, causing further dispersal downstream.
Our largest annual plant, it flowers from July to October.

How to identify

Himalayan balsam has large, pink flowers shaped like a bonnet; these are followed by hanging, green seed pods.

Distribution

Found mostly in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, with some scattered populations in Scotland.

Did you know?

Also known as 'Indian balsam', Himalayan balsam is originally from the Himalayas. This has earned it the charming nickname of 'Kiss-me-on-the-mountain' in some parts of the UK.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts work with pest controllers and organisations dealing with alien species to find the most wildlife-friendly solutions to some of our everyday problems.