Himalayan Balsam: An Unlikely Enemy

If it hasn’t reached you yet, beware.  It will.  This invasive plant was introduced – from the Himalayas, obviously – as an attractive addition to the English garden in 1839, and now seems to be marching inexorably round the country, destroying all plants in its path – yes, ANY plant.  Even roughy-toughies like rosebay willow herb and brambles are powerless to stand against it.

The other day, I went with a friend on a favourite walk along the River Nidd.  It’s a gorgeous path, through typical English woodland, with the river rippling and tumbling  alongside.  Not any more, not where we were.  Himalayan balsam has invaded huge stretches of the walk – it prefers to be near water – and we found ourselves marching between shoulder-high sentinels of the wretched thing, unable any longer either to see the trees and undergrowth, nor enjoy either the riverside views or those of the meadows opposite.

And in town today, walking down a little ginnel where, when I was at work, I used to collect blackberries in my lunch hour to make into jellies and jams(how sad….but it made me happy) there was not a bramble bush in sight, just That Balsam.

If it’s planning an invasion near you, martial your forces.  This plant will fight, smother and strangle every bit of vegetation in its path, and conquer yard after yard of ground with every passing year. You must join battle against it the very first time you see some of its – quite attractive – pink flowers .  Or it will win the war and continue its despotic rule.

4 thoughts on “Himalayan Balsam: An Unlikely Enemy”

    1. Yes, that’s an interesting link, thank you. It does feel a losing battle in many parts of England, so it’s depressing to see it inching into our part of France too


  1. A friend had planted another type of impatiens and it spread under her mobile home to the point she can’t get rid of it. Curious as to the plant, looked it up in Wiki and among other things found this:
    “The Bionic Control of Invasive Weeds in Wiesbaden, Germany is trying to establish a self sufficient project to conserve their local biodiversity by developing several food products made from the Impatiens flowers. Eventually, if all goes well, this project will have the Himalayan Balsam financing its own eradication.”
    [“The green seed pods and seeds can be eaten, and also the young leaves and shoots, which is a method of controlling the plant’s spread.”]
    So either develop a taste for the various parts of the plant or perhaps someone hires a goat or two?
    Good luck!


    1. Can’t imagine ever developing sufficient of a taste to eat the vast quantities near us in England now. I’ve only just noticed it appearing ina few places near us in France, so I’m really hoping it doesn’t take a grip. Have YOU tried eating it yet?? Thanks for getting in touch: that was all really interesting


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