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Himalayan balsam

Despite its soothing name, this densely growing pink and red-stemmed weed stifles any native grasses and plants in its path.

Himalayan Balsam with purple flowers on both banks of narrow waterway Himalayan Balsam, copyright GBNNS

Its seed pods explode open when ripe and can shoot seeds up to seven metres away – with each plant able to produce around 800 seeds, it’s no wonder this plant dominates certain areas.

Whilst it doesn’t need much light itself, the weed tends to shade out other plants and when it dies back in autumn its destructive legacy lives on, as it leaves waterway banks vulnerable to erosion.

Last date edited: 29 July 2015