Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) - Non-native Species
(Photo: Mike Sutton-Croft)
Himalayan balsam was introduced to the UK in 1839 as an ornamental plant at Kew gardens and was first recorded in the wild in 1855. With its attractive pink flowers and intriguing exploding seed pods, it is easy to see why Himalayan balsam could be considered a desirable ornamental plant. Unfortunately, this plant can have significant negative impacts. It forms dense stands of vegetation 2-3m in height that shade out species of native plant. Himalayan balsam is also a prolific nectar producer, meaning that bees will preferentially visit these plants. This reduces seed production in native plant species and biodiversity as a whole. In winter, Himalayan balsam dies back, leaving river banks bare and susceptible to erosion.