Himalayan Balsam was introduced as a garden plant in 1839, but soon escaped and became widely naturalised along riverbanks and ditches, especially close to towns. It is fast-growing and spreads quickly, invading wet habitat quickly at the expense of other, native flowers. Its explosive seed pods aid its spread by sending the seeds into the river for even further dispersal.
How to identify
Himalayan Balsam has large, pink flowers shaped like a bonnet that appear from July to October; these are followed by hanging, green seed pods.
Where to find it
Grows mostly in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, with some scattered populations in Scotland.
When to find it
How can people help
Himalayan Balsam is a fast-growing species which can quickly get a stranglehold in an area, causing problems for our native species. The Wildlife Trusts manage many nature reserves for the benefit of wildlife using various methods to ensure a balance of plants and cover in these fragile habitats. By volunteering for your local Trust you can help too, and you'll make new friends and learn new skills along the way.