Himalayan balsam

Himalayan Balsam

Himalayan Balsam - Amy Lewis

We need your help to find an invasive plant which is damaging the Nene Valley's wildlife.

Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) grows in dense stands, killing any native plants which try and grow beneath it. Then, when it dies back in the autumn, it leaves the riverbanks bare and vulnerable to erosion. It produces thousands of seeds in explosive seed pods, so it can spread very quickly.

The balsam was introduced to Britain as a garden plant; however it escaped and quickly invaded riverbanks. Now the Northamptonshire Biodiversity Records Centre (NBRC) are working with the Environment Agency to find out where Himalayan Balsam is growing along the Nene Valley.

And that's where we need your help. You can report your sightings on the online NBRC Himalayan balsam survey.

What does it look like?

With its pink-purple, trumpet shaped flowers and growing up to 3m in height the Himalayan balsam is easily recognisable in the summer. The stems are hollow, fleshy and easily broken, and its leaves have serrated edges. For a more detailed description visit the NBRC website.