Manningtree, Brantham Felixstowe Chelsmford
Braintree Clacton. Frinton Hadleigh Woodbridge
Himalayan Balsam is a tall growing annual 2-3m in height. Between June and October it produces clusters of purplish pink helmet-shaped flowers. The flowers are followed by seed pods that open explosively when ripe. Each pod can produce up to 16 seeds that can shoot up to 7m away. Seeds are also spread by water and they remain viable for two years.
The stems are pinkish-red, hollow and jointed. The stem is sappy and brittle. The shiny dark green leaves are lance-shaped, have serrated edges. They grow on the stem in threes. The aggressive seed dispersal, coupled with high nectar production which attracts pollinators, often allows the Himalayan Balsam to outcompete native plants.
Control measures should aim to prevent flowering before the seed pods mature, and are best carried out before June to receive maximum effectiveness. If effective control has been carried out, complete eradication can be achieved in two seasons.
Introduced to the UK in 1839 from Northern India, Himalayan or Indian Balsam is most commonly found on riverbanks and damp areas after it successfully escaped from gardens. It grows rapidly and spreads quickly, smothering all other vegetation as it goes.
Rapidly forming dense stands which can grow up to 3m tall dominating the area. The plant can tolerate low levels of light and these stands shade out our native plant species. In late autumn the plants die back leaving the area bare of vegetation and liable to erosion.