Himalayan Balsam Control

Good Advice from Wilderness Tamed

Landscape Gardener.

Himalayan Balsam, Impatiens glandulifera grows rampantly along river banks. 

Due to it being annual it does not establish a strong binding root system 

causing erosion on the river banks. It grows to over two meters high and so densley

that it swamps out other native plants such as Loosestrife and Water Avens.


When ripe, the seed pods pop open launching the numerous seeds several meters.

Bee keepers are keen on balsam as they say it provides a good nectar supply for bees, but I would rather our native bees spent their valuable time and energy pollinating native plants, rather than this invasive foreign thug.




It is easy to pull out of the ground but the stems must be stripped of all leaves and 

crushed their entire length to expel all the water. Otherwise the plant retains enough energy and water to set root from any one of it's many leaf nodes and ripen its seed pods.


The roots seldom extend more than a few inches into the ground but they will draw up a lot of water and nutrients from the soil to feed the rapidly growing plant.




This picture illustrates how dormant roots will emerge from any leaf node up the stem. Thus even when pulled out of the ground by the roots any section of stem left in contact with the ground will root and establish itself. 

They are tenaceous and will use several strategies to survive. 

It is possible to cut them betwen the roots and first node which means the roots will

not send u pany new stems. However the stems must still be either destroyed in the way mentioned above or burned.

The stems are packed with water holding cells which unless crushed will supply the flowers or roots with energy to flourish. The distinctive red tinge to the leaf nodes is a characteristic of Balsam. Japanese knotweed has similar looking stems but they lack the red tint. Knotweed stems ripen and go woody in winter where-as Balsam stems wither and rot.

The leaves are finely serated and grow from the stems in whorls or three to five as illustrated.


Wilderness Tamed John Grundy