Himalayan balsam

Himalayan Balsam

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schedule 9

Himalayan or Indian balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) is an annual herb and was introduced to Britain in 1839. Its common name is “Policeman’s Helmet” due to the shape of the flowers.

Himalayan balsam grows up to 3 metres high with a hollow and bamboo-like stem, pink-red to green in colour with green vertical grooves. Because of the colour and type of the stem, it has occasionally been mistaken by the uninitiated for Japanese knotweed. Leaves are long, slender and shiny, with serrated edges and are dark green in colour.


Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) is listed under Schedule 9 to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 with respect to England and Wales. As such, it is an offence to plant or otherwise allow this species to grow in the wild. Offenders could face a £5000 fine and/or 6 months imprisonment.

It is recommended that this plant is controlled or eradicated, and you have a duty of care to prevent its spread from your property. You must handle and dispose of the plant in accordance with strict guidelines and legislation. Contact us, we can help.

Himalayan Balsam Experts

Japanese Knotweed Ltd are experienced contractors in the surveying and remediation of invasive non-native plant species, including Himalayan balsam. We will survey a site and establish the best method and price for control or eradication in accordance with your requirements. Works are expertly undertaken by trained and certified operational staff, with all works fully recorded. By contacting us you benefit from:

Identifying Himalayan Balsam

Himalayan balsam seedling
Himalayan balsam seedling
Himalayan balsam flower budding
Himalayan balsam seed pod
Himalayan balsam growth
Himalayan balsam growth with knotweed

Himalayan Balsam UK

Himalayan balsam produces purplish to pale pink flowers in mid-late summer. On rare occasions flowers are white. Seed pods are carried on long stalks between June and October and resemble an elongated pear. When disturbed or touched they split, resulting in seeds literally exploding from the plant. Each plant can produce around 2,500 seeds that can be propelled up to 7 metres in distance.
Seeds that enter watercourses can travel over 10 km before germinating in the spring. The plant is mainly found on riverbanks and damp ground. It spreads predominantly along watercourses but is also spread by human interaction. Key features include:

  • Trumpet shape wide petals
  • Pink (rarely white) petals
  • Opposite leaves, or in whorls of 3-5
  • Seed capsules, around 2.5cm long hanging on red stalks
  • Stem green to red early in the year, pink to red in summer
  • Stems are hollow, sappy, fleshy and brittle
  • Leaves have finely serrated edges

Himalayan Balsam Facts

Himalayan balsam presents no physical danger to either humans or animals. It does, however, provide a significant ecological impact since it grows in dense stands that suppress native grasses and other flora. In the autumn the plants die off leaving river banks bare and highly susceptible to erosion.

Himalayan Balsam Removal

Relatively weak roots mean the plant can be pulled or dug up before the seed pods are produced. Digging operations will need to be carried out for at least two years as seeds can remain viable for several years. Chemical control is also possible, though Environment Agency consent will have to be sought prior to chemical application to plants on riverbanks.

Japanese Knotweed Ltd always liaise closely with Environment Agency officials in such circumstances. It should be noted that if Himalayan balsam still exists upstream then control will never be fully effective.

NB: If no target invasive weed is found on the property a charge of £165 plus VAT will apply.
*If the area to be surveyed is greater than 1 acre we reserve the right to apply a charge to carry out the survey. For the Isle of Man or Isle of Wight charges may apply. Price on request.

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