Place of origin

Native to India, it was likely introduced to North America as an ornamental plant. Himalayan balsam has been found in Alberta along water bodies.

Habitat

Grows in moist, nutrient rich soil and thrives in disturbed riparian habitats and wet woodlands.

Identification

Phto of Himalayan balsam
  • Himalayan balsam leaves are simple, oblong-shaped with serrated edges, arranged oppositely on a square, hollow stem.
  • Leaf veins and stems have red to purple tinges. Flowers are irregular with 5 purple to pink to white petals and resemble an English policeman's helmet.
  • Round brown seeds are released explosively when a ripened capsule is disturbed or dried.

Reproduction

Himalayan balsam is only able to reproduce by seed; however, a single plant can produce up to 4,000 seeds that launch up to 10 m in all directions.

Issues

  • Displaces native vegetation, reducing habitat for wildlife and native plants.
  • Draws pollinators away from native plants.

Current management in Alberta

Control of Himalayan balsam can be difficult, especially once well established. Methods for control or eradication by trained personnel include:

  • careful hand digging for isolated or small populations
  • repeated mechanical cutting
  • chemical treatment

The objective for control is to repeatedly remove the plants before they set seed.

Resources

Help stop the spread of invasive plants

Report aquatic invasive species:

Learn more about identifying and preventing invasive aquatic plants:

Spread the word about the threats invasive plants pose:

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