When ripe, the seed pods of the Himalayan Balsam will explode at the slightest of stimuli. Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) has rapidly become one of the UK’s most widespread invasive weed species, colonising river banks, waste land, damp woodlands, roadways and railways.It reaches well over head height, and is a major weed problem. It has an explosive seed capsule, which scatters seeds over a distance of up to 7m. Dependent on local climate, Himalayan balsam flowers between July and October. Growing and spreading rapidly, it successfully competes with native plant species for space, light, nutrients and pollinators, and … It commonly grows along linear corridors which facilitate its spread such as rivers or disused railway lines. It prefers moist soils but will grow pretty much anywhere. “The problem with it is that it creates quite vast stands which compete with our native flora,” Emma Harrington, of the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, told the BBC. Granted, it’s an oddly satisfying experience. Appearance Impatiens glandulifera is a succulent annual than can be 3-10 ft. (0.9-3 m) tall. Himalayan Balsam can very quickly be identified through the cluster of purple/pink, helmet-shaped flowers it produces. Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) is an exotic-looking annual that has pink, helmet-shaped flowers (also known as "policeman’s helmet”), rapid growth, and an entertaining mode of explosive seed dispersal. It is also commonly referred to as Indian Balsam. This shows how easily this invasive species to the UK, spreads its seeds away from the plant . Himalayan Balsam is an annual plant and produces colourful flowers. Because it is so tall, it will often shade out shorter native plants. Himalayan Balsam - Free food. This is often because the plant grows in inaccessible areas or sites of high conservation status where chemical and/or manual control is not an option. However, it does have some redeeming features and whilst I can understand the reasons for it being much despised I feel somebody has to speak up in support of this controversial but defenceless and, even though invidious of me to say it, invaluable plant! It was introduced to Kew Gardens in 1839 and is thought to have mainly been spread by people passing seeds to each other. sterilised bottles Tree cookies: thin slices of sustainably-harvested branches, to make discs of 5-10cm diameter, and decorated with permanent pens or a pyrography pen. The Himalayan Balsam was introduced in the UK in 1839 as a greenhouse and garden plant, but it only took a few decades for it to escape into the wild. Himalayan balsam is native to the Himalayas, specifically to the areas between Kashmir and Uttarakhand. https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife-explorer/wildflowers/ The stems are purple tinged, hollow and hexagonally angled. Interestingly, the plant’s Latin name, Impatiens glandulifera, speaks of its impatience to spread far and wide, using a fascinating evolutionary mechanism. If you liked this story, like & follow us on Facebook for more. . To combat the effects of Himalayan Balsam on the environment, conservationists regularly organize clearing parties to uproot the plant from particularly sensitive areas. While it comes from Asia, it has spread into other habitats, where it pushes out native plants and can wreak serious havoc on the environment. The species is particularly frequent along the banks of watercourses, where it often forms continuous stands. Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) is a very attractive but problematic plant, especially in the British Isles. Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) is an introduced summer annual that has naturalised in the UK, mainly along riverbanks and ditches. A native of the Western Himalaya, it was introduced in 1839 to Kew Gardens as a greenhouse exotic. Often nicknamed the Police Helmet plant, Himalayan Balsam can grow up between 1 … Impatiens glandulifera, commonly known as the Himalayan Balsam, is an invasive plant with a very peculiar colonizing system – its seed pods literally explode when touched or otherwise disturbed, shooting the seeds up to 7 meters in every direction. It grows in dense stands and can be up to 2m tall. • Himalayan balsam is an annual plant with bright purple-pink flowers. A pint glass full of your favourite wild edible flowers with all the green bit removed or for a really floral drink, two pint glasses. Its exploding seed pods allow the plant to rapidly spread into nearly impregnable thickets that reach over 3-meters-tall, smothering all other plant life to death. Himalayan balsam plants are native to Asia. Find more gardening information on Gardening Know How: Keep up to date with all that's happening in and around the garden. By foraging for this free food you can help your budget and the environment. It escaped into the wild and is now recorded throughout the UK, particularly along the banks of watercourses. Traditional control methods are currently inadequate in controlling Himalayan balsam in the UK. “In the winter it dies back and leaves bare soil, so then you’ve got a risk of soil erosion and it can contribute to flash flooding.”. The explosion of the Himalayan balsam’s fruit capsule can fire seeds up to seven metres. Today, many communities around the world are struggling to keep the plant in check, organizing seasonal “bashing” sessions to clear large swathes of land. Every plant has dozens of pods which contain an average of 800 seeds, so a thicket of  Himalayan Balsam can contain up to 30,000 of these tiny bullets just waiting to take root. Apart from its attractive flowers, the exploding seed pods made it uniquely appealing. Written by. The plant is an annual, so if caught early it quickly vanishes. It was introduced to the UK in 1839 and is now a … Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) has rapidly become one of the UK’s most invasive weed species, colonising river banks, waste ground and damp woodlands. You may have seen Himalayan Balsam when walking along the banks of the River Dee or the River Don. Plants can grow up to 3m tall, making this the tallest annual species growing wild in the UK. Wild Summer flower cordial and Pine needle cordial. To fight Himalayan balsam, plants must be chopped down, or pulled up as they come into flower in June or July. Himalayan Balsam regrows annually from the seeds which are viable for 2 years therefore any control efforts must be carried out before the seed pods are produced for maximum effect. Simply touching them with your finger, dangling the plant stem or even walking past them can cause the pods to pop, launching the seeds meters away in every direction. It should not be planted, and Himalayan balsam control should be implemented if you find it on your property. There was a time when the plant was marketed as a novelty attraction for children, under the name ” Mr. Noisy’s Exploding Plant”, and despite its now known invasive tendencies people still love popping those pods every chance they get. If you need a more accessible version of this document please email [email protected] Unfortunately, this species is extremely invasive in moist, shaded environments, and is now swiftly spreading through the watercourses of the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley. The plant is attracted to damp areas like river banks, where it grows in clusters that can reach 10 feet (3 m.) in height. Himalayan balsam is an annual herb, native to the western Himalayas. In the early 1800s it was introduced to many parts of Europe, New Zealand and North America as a garden ornamental. The most effective method of controlling Himalayan balsam is cutting and hand pulling. In its native range it is usually found in altitudes between 2000–2500 m above sea level, although it has been reported in up to 4000 m above sea level. . The problem is that such actions need careful planning, as if the pods are ripe, the slightest touch can cause them to pop, shooting fresh seeds everywhere and keeping the cycle going. This leaves the river banks vulnerable to serious erosion. The tall, pretty pink flower spikes of rosebay willowherb ( Chamaenerion angustifolium ) are a common sight on railway banks and disturbed woodland. Himalayan balsam is an annual, however, and it dies back in the winter, leaving bare spaces that would normally be inhabited by native grasses. Sign up for our newsletter. It has been blamed for natural disasters such as landslides and altering the flow of rivers, which leads to flooding. Related. Habitat Description: Himalayan Balsam grows in moist and semi-shaded damp places including waste ground, and thin woodlands. Since it was introduced, it has spread to most parts of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Due to human introduction, it has now spread across much of the Northern Hemisphere. Controlling Himalayan balsam is a two part endeavor – removing existing plants and preventing the spread of seed. Herbicides also work but only as a last resort. 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The species has the ability to regrow from the lowest node in the same season therefore control efforts need to remove the However, despite the plant being valued for these reasons, Himalayan Balsam is actually … If you’re getting rid of Himalayan balsam plants by hand, let the cut plants lie on the ground in the sun for a few days to dry out and die before composting them. 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Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) is known to many people as an attractive plant with a familiar sweet scent, and a reputation for being a good nectar source for bees. How to Make a Magical Himalayan Balsam Gin • Craft Invaders • It is listed under schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 – it is an offence to plant or cause this species to grow in the wild. e9 = new Object(); Leaves are lanceolate to lance-ovate with acuminate tips. Between June and October it produces clusters of purplish pink (or rarely white) helmet-shaped flowers. The Balsam has these beautiful purple flowers that people love so much that they historically spread seeds in the wild just so they could see them on the sides of roads. . e9.snackbar = true; Land managers often give up when faced with controlling Himalayan balsam over a large area due to… It successfully competes with native plant species for space, light, nutrients and pollinators, and excludes other plant growth, thereby reducing native biodiversity. If you use assistive technology please tell us what this is. Himalayan balsam (Inpatiens glandulifera) is a large annually growing plant that is native to the Himalayan mountains. That’s particularly problematic on riverbeds, where it leaves vast swaths of land exposed to harsh winters as well as erosion. Himalayan balsam is an attractive, non-native invasive terrestrial plant species. The threat of the Himalayan Balsam has been compared to that of Japanese Knotweed, another invasive plant the spread of which has so far proved virtually impossible to control. Sign up to get all the latest gardening tips! PDF. Himalayan Balsam is, as the name suggests, native to India, more specifically to the Himalayas. Himalayan Balsam is an annual plant and produces colourful flowers. In the early 19th century, they were brought to the British Isles to be planted in gardens, and before long they escaped into the wild, where they continue to cause a number of serious problems. Himalayan balsam: controlling it on your land, file type: PDF, file size: 3 MB . The more seeds we eat, the fewer seeds there will remain to spread this plant. Elderflower cordial: made in the spring, stored in the fridge, then decanted into small sterilised bottles Home-made sloe gin: made in the autumn and then decanted into (larger!) Please tell us the format you need. 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