FAQ on Himalayan Balsam

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Himalayan Balsam Questions and Answers

Below are some of the most commonly asked questions regarding Himalayan Balsam.

Q1: What does Himalayan balsam look like?

Q2: What does the law say about Himalayan balsam?

Q3: Why is Himalayan balsam bad?

Q4: What do you know about Himalayan balsam management?

Q5: Why is Himalayan balsam a problem?

Q6: Why is Himalayan balsam an invasive species?

Q7: How do I remove Himalayan balsam?

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Q1: What does Himalayan balsam look like?

Himalayan Balsam can very quickly be identified through the cluster of purple/pink, helmet-shaped flowers it produces. Often nicknamed the Police Helmet plant, Himalayan Balsam can grow up between 1-2 metres high. A fascinating characteristic of Himalayan Balsam is their exploding seed pods that will explode at the slightest touch, dispensing hundreds of seeds in all directions. 

Q2: What does the law say about Himalayan balsam?

Himalayan Balsam was added to schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 in Wales and England. Scotland later included it towards the end of 2011. The Act makes it an offence to grow Himalayan Balsam in the wild. Although you are allowed to have Himalayan Balsam on your property, it is an offence to allow the invasive plant to spread someone else property.

Q3: Why is Himalayan balsam bad?

Himalayan Balsam outcompetes other native plants for natural resources such as sunlight and minerals. This creates a problem alongside watercourses that are left exposed to erosion.

Q4: What do you know about Himalayan balsam management?

Himalayan Balsam is a shallow rooted plant which makes it easy to pull out the ground by hand. However, to avoid the plants seeds from dispensing it is recommended to cut off the flower head, which contains the seeds, into a bag first before uprooting.
Chemical spraying can also be an effective control measure for Himalayan Balsam, although if the plant is near a watercourse then chemical control is not usually recommended.

Q5: Why is Himalayan balsam a problem?

Himalayan Balsam is one of the UK’s most fastest-spreading invasive weeds today. It starves native plants from sunlight and mineral, leaving riverbanks more susceptible to erosion.

Q6: Why is Himalayan balsam an invasive species?

The extreme pace at which Himalayan Balsam can spread, thanks to its exploding seed pods and the damage it can cause to the environment, makes it an invasive species.

Q7: How do I remove Himalayan balsam?

The shallow roots of Himalayan Balsam make it easy just to pull it straight out the ground. Chemical treatment can also be used where appropriate. 

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