Himalayan Balsam is a non-native plant that is now growing widely in Britain. It is invasive and as a result is now a major weed problem. It likes to live along riverbanks and streams and in damp or wet areas.
According to the RHS it is the largest annual plant and can grow up to 2.5m high from seed in a single season. Because it can shoot its seed up to four metres it is able to spread rapidly. Also, as it likes to live on stream and river banks, the water can carry the seeds downstream, which further allows its rapid colonisation of other areas and its ability to shoot seeds helps it to go upstream.
It is a member of the Busy Lizzie family (impatiens) with a latin name of Impatiens Glandulifera. It has a large pink-purple flower, with a reddish stem and its leaves have small red teeth on the edge.
Unfortunately Abbey Fields is infested with Himalayan Balsam. It appears that the best way to remove it, short of excavation or the use of agricultural grade chemicals, is to attack it before it sets seeds and pull it up. To assist with this Friends of Abbey Fields will organise a number of work parties during the summer.
For more details of Himalayan Balsam Working Parties please click here.