Himalayan Balsam

Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) is the tallest growing annual weed in the UK. It grows from seed, flowers and dies all within the same growing season; as such it is remarkable that plants can reach a height of 3m within a few months. Not all plants grow to these heights, and the Balsam may only reach a height of 300mm and is quite capable of flowering and setting seeds. When the seed pods are ripe, any disturbance of them triggers the explosive release mechanism – walking through a dense colony with ripe seed pods can be an interesting experience.

The main problem with Himalayan Balsam is its tendency to make dense colonies in damp areas, such as river banks. In the winter when the plants have died the bare soil is swiftly eroded and this may cause severe problems with the riparian ecology.

A single small plant of Himalayan Balsam.
Note the ripe seed pods and flowers.

Himalayan Balsam next to water in Yorkshire.



Control measures are quite straightforward, there are mechanical methods, in which the plants are either pulled up or cut to ground level ('Balsam Bashing') or chemical methods using an approved herbicide. The seed bank persists for 18 months to 2 years, so control measures must continue for this period. However since Balsam seeds may be spread by water, animals, etc, reinfestation from outside the area, must always be considered.

All methods must be individually priced. Control measures for smaller infestations of knotweed may be discussed on the telephone but site visits are normally arranged and more detailed quotations offered.

Site visits are normally not charged but, due to the expertise of this company, full technical reporting in some instances, may require an agreed charge with the client before that visit.

Contact Brian Taylor on 01327 340770 or email me on brian@jkweed.co.uk

A low growing area of Himalayan Balsam