Himalayan Balsam Removal & Control
Beautiful flowers loved by the bees, a heady scent, lush foliage; what’s not to like about Himalayan balsam? Unfortunately, this amazing plant causes problems to our natural environment, and is a focus for the Environment Agency. Himalayan balsam is also a concern according to UK law, and is listed on Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act . See our Himalayan Balsam removal & control services below.
Growing far from home
Native to the Himalayas in India and Pakistan, where it can be found on elevations up to 2,500 metres. Now it is now widespread throughout Europe, including the United Kingdom, as well as parts of North America. It is essential Himalayan balsam control measures are in place, as the plant that spreads in the UK at the rate of 645 km²per year.
A plant that stands out
Standing head and shoulders above the rest, Himalayan balsam is the tallest annual growing in Britain. This, coupled with its rapid colonisation can cause extreme problems around waterways. And, because Himalayan balsam dies back completely for the winter, this can increase the rate of riverbank erosion and obstruct water flow. Subsequently, this can increase the risk of flooding.
There is both a social and legal responsibility to deal with Himalayan balsam infestations.
Himalayan balsam facts
- Reproduces by seed so spread is managed by controlling seed production/bank.
- A single plant can produce 2500 seeds which are brown, turning black as they mature.
- Typical locations: along waterways, on derelict land, along verges and in parks.
- Himalayan balsam is the tallest annual plant in Europe; each stem can be 2.5 metres tall.
- The explosion of the Himalayan balsam’s fruit capsule can fire seeds up to seven metres.
- Dependent on local climate, Himalayan balsam flowers between July and October.
- Large stands of Himalayan balsam may often be smelt before they are seen; the plant gives off a heady (some say sickly) sweet smell which can
- be very strong if the stand is large.
Why worry about Himalayan balsam?
Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) often produces more nectar than native species. This makes the balsam flowers more attractive to pollinating insects than those of other native plants in close proximity. Stands of Himalayan balsam plants grow and spread rapidly, out-competing our natural flora for space and light. This leads to a reduction in the local biodiversity. However, Himalayan balsam also a concern according to UK law.
What does UK law say about Himalayan balsam?
Impatiens glandulifera, along with other Himalayan plants: Himalayan Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster simonsii) and Himalayan Knotweed (Persicaria wallichii) do present legal issues in the UK. Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act  applies to Himalayan Balsam and Cotoneaster, whilst Himalayan knotweed is covered The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations (‘Habitats Regulations’) to which the UK is still bound. In all there instances the obligation concerns the landowner preventing the plants from spreading from their property into the wild’
Government Agencies are concerned about balsam
This is not simply a legal concern for land and property owners. UK government agencies are aware of the problems Himalayan balsam can create along riverbanks, with soil released by the plant decreasing water quality. The Environment agency has engaged with water companies to address the problem.
As environmental cause for concern, invasive plants such as Himalayan balsam are considered by the Environment Agency as one of the top drivers of biodiversity loss.