When it comes to the question of what is Himalayan balsam, let’s start at the beginning. Impatiens glandulifera, also known as Himalayan balsam, is an annual weed that was introduced into the UK in 1839. Native to the Himalayas, this vigorously growing annual is able to reduce the biological diversity of the ecosystem by dominating native plants for resources, light, and space.
Himalayan balsam can tolerate low levels of light and also shade out other plants, thus slowly impoverishing the habitats and killing off other vegetation. Sometimes, it is seen in many gardens, either grown deliberately or uninvited, but care should be taken to make sure that it doesn’t escape into the wild, because if it does it may spread dangerously and professional Himalayan balsam control and removal may be required.
Is Himalayan balsam an invasive plant?
Himalayan Balsam is usually grown for its flowers, and now widely common in many regions of the world, including North and the British Isles. In some cases, it becomes an invasive weed species. The aggressive dispersal of seed, along with the high production of nectarine that attracts pollinators, usually enables the Himalayan Balsam to outperform the native plants.
Also, this species promotes the erosion around river bank areas because of its death in the winter, which leaves the bank uncovered from flooding. Invasive Himalayan balsam also has an adverse impact on indigenous plants by attracting pollinators like insects. Under the Weed Control Act, it is regarded as a “prohibited poisonous weed.” The plant was first brought to the UK in 1839 at the same time as Japanese knotweed and giant hogweed. All of them were promoted as being herculean and splendidly invasive to rival the expensive growth of orchids in the greenhouses.
However, within 10 years, Himalayan balsam started to spread along the ecosystem of England. These days, it has appeared across almost all of the UK, and many local wildlife trusts even organise some events to control it. However, such efforts might do more harm than good in some circumstances. Removing the riparian stands of the plant might open up more space for other aggressive invasive species like Japanese knotweed and help with seed spreading. Many studies also show that Himalayan balsam might expose allelopathy, which can excrete toxins and have an adverse effect on the neighbouring plants. As a result, it has a competitive advantage in the ecosystem.
How to eliminate Himalayan balsam?
The optimal method to control the dispersal of riparian Himalayan Balsam is decreasing eutrophication, which can permit the better-adapted vegetation that is outgrown by the plant. However, this can be true for those plants that grow at meadow habitats and forest edges, where manual action can be the best method. Many expert and biologists recommend that cutting and pulling is the primary way of non-chemical control, and often the most appropriate method. These manual methods will prevent the spreading of the allelopathy.