Himalayan Balsam Nightmare!

Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) has rapidly become one of the UK’s most invasive weed species, colonising river banks, waste ground and damp woodlands. It successfully competes with native plant species for space, light, nutrients and pollinators and excludes other plant growth, thereby reducing native biodiversity. As an annual, Himalayan balsam dies back in the winter, and where the plant grows near water it can cause flooding and erosion.

Like most introduced plant species Himalayan balsam arrived in the UK without any of the natural enemies that keep the plant in check in its native range. Without these natural enemies, Himalayan balsam is able to grow faster and has a greater ability to reproduce, giving it an advantage over native species. Traditional control methods are currently inadequate in controlling Himalayan balsam in the UK. This is often because the plant grows in inaccessible areas or sites of high conservation status where chemical control is not an option.
A single plant can produce up to 800 seeds in autumn which it ‘fires’ up to 7 metres away and seed can even survive in water for up to 18 months. Unbelievably for a plant related to the Busy Lizzie, this invasive plant can grow up to 3 metres tall and is a real thug, crowding out adjacent plants.

Last year, I noticed some plants on nearby waste ground which is at least 200 metres from home but this morning I found one in my flower border! It is only about 1 metre high but in full flower so I am about to remove all traces of it before it has a chance to set seed! Pity it is such a thug, it is quite pretty! The hooded flowers remind me of an ancient military helmet and it is one plant that would be guaranteed to grow in the most difficult areas of the garden!

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