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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

The seed pods of Himalayan balsalm explode open when they become 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.

It doesn't need much light and will grow in a wide range of habitats. However, this weed tends to shade out other plants and when it dies back in autumn its destructive legacy lives on. It leaves waterway banks bare and vulnerable to erosion.

It's actually quite easy to control, using a method called balsam bashing. This basically means pulling the shallow-rooted plant up before it flowers in June. This can eradicate the plant from an area within a few years.

However, Himalayan balsalm is so widely spread that it's a daunting task in many locations. It can also easily spread from adjacent land and down waterways through its prolific seed production.

Last Edited: 17 November 2020

photo of a location on the canals
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