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. Its common name is “Policeman’s Helmet” due to the shape of the flowers. If you've ever wandered along a riverbank, pond or lake, we guarantee you will have seen it at least once! Himalayan Balsam (HB) is considered to be the tallest growing annual plant in the UK (2-3m) It is a non-native alien species introduced by the Victorians for its pretty pink bell-like flowers prompting its common name ‘Policemen’s Helmets’. Himalayan balsam grows and spreads quickly on river banks, waste ground and damp woodlands. It can advise on suitably qualified contractors, as can the National Association of Agricultural and Amenity Contractors. The plants grow densely and stop the growth of other plants and grasses. 0 ← Back. Each plant can produce up to 800 seeds. We would recommend you also look elsewhere for further information, possibly not covered on these pages. Contact weedkillers and glyphosate have low persistence in the soil, being virtually inactivated on soil contact. 020 3176 5800 Himalayan balsam is an introduced annual naturalised along riverbanks and ditches. A native of the Western Himalaya, it was introduced in 1839 to Kew Gardens as a greenhouse exotic. Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) is an introduced summer annual that has naturalised in the UK, mainly along riverbanks and ditches. Common Names. It is now widely established in other parts of the world (such as the British Isles and North America), in some cases becoming a weed. Inclusion of a weedkiller product does not indicate a recommendation or endorsement by the RHS. If you […] It starves native plants from sunlight and mineral, leaving riverbanks more susceptible to erosion. Safety Bulletins 163.67 views per day | under Safety Bulletin; Jargon Buster 105 views per day | under Tools; Plants can grow up to 3m tall, making this the tallest annual species growing wild in the UK. Introduced in the 19 th Century as a garden plant because of its imposing stature and attractive flowers, it quickly spread into the wild and is common in the UK. Himalayan balsam is native to the foothills of the Himalayas, India and Pakistan, and was first released into the UK in 1839 as an ornamental garden plant. Himalayan balsam can be controlled with a weedkiller based on glyphosate (e.g. The species is particularly frequent along the banks of watercourses, where it often forms continuous stands. This plant is the least harmful of our three main invasive species. Introduced to the UK in 1839, Himalayan balsam is now a naturalised plant, found especially on riverbanks and in waste places where it has become a problem weed. It grows rapidly and spreads quickly, smothering other vegetation as it goes. Himalayan Balsam, Policemans Helmet, Bobby Tops, Copper Tops. A native of the Western Himalaya, it was introduced in 1839 and is now recorded throughout Britain. RHS members can get exclusive individual advice from the RHS Gardening Advice team. If you would like to add anything or have any suggestions, please contact the site manager. Colonising rail and river banks, wastelands and woodlands, Himalayan balsam was introduced to the British Isles in 1839 by Victorian plant hunters who were keen on its beautiful pink flowers and exploding seed pods. Commonly found along riverbanks and streams, around ponds and lakes, in wet woodlands and in ditches and damp meadows. The information on these pages has been pulled together by non-experts, through extensive web searches and limited consultation with experts. Some parts of Himalayan Balsam are edible, and the flowers can be used to make ‘champagne’ similar to that which is made with elderflowers. Chemicals: using safely and effectively The flowers are followed by seed pods that open explosively when ripe. What is Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) Himalayan Balsam, commonly known as Indian Balsam and Policemans Helmet, is an invasive non native annual plant which has quickly infested the banks of British waterways shading out the native British plants … If you feel you could contribute, to make the site better, please do. How to identify: it grows up to 2-3m in height; it has red-tinged stems and green leaves; purplish pink flowers from June to October. Himalayan balsam was introduced as a garden plant in 1839, but soon escaped and became widely naturalised along riverbanks and ditches, especially close to towns. Find the Environmental Protection Act 1990 on the Legislation.gov.uk website. Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) is a relative of the busy Lizzie, but reaches well over head height, and is a major weed problem, especially on riverbanks and waste land, but can also invade gardens. Himalayan Balsam was added to Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 in April 2009 in Wales and England. These seeds are stored in fruit capsules at the top of the plant, which when mature or prodded explode, spreading them far into the air and over a wide area (up to seven metres). Its aggressive seed dispersal, coupled with high nectar production which attracts pollinators, often allow it to outcompete native plants. Himalayan balsam is sometimes cultivated for its flowers. By foraging for this free food you can help your budget and the environment. Himalayan balsam is a tall growing annual, 2-3m (6-10ft) in height. 222879/SC038262, The most widespread distribution tends to be by human means where individuals pass on seed to friends, Once established in the catchment of a river the seeds, which can remain viable for two years, are transported further afield by water. Roundup Fast Action, Westland Resolva Pro Xtra Tough Weedkiller, SBM Job done General Purpose Weedkiller or Doff Maxi Strength Glyphosate Weedkiller). Himalayan balsam grows up to 3 m tall and is reputed to be the tallest annual plant found in the UK. Himalayan balsam tolerates low light levels and also shades out other vegetation, so gradually impoverishing habitats by killing off other plants. 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