Himalayan Balsam

Impatiens glandulifera


Size: Can reach up to 2.5m tall

Native to: The Himalayas

Introduced to the UK: In 1839, first recorded in the wild in 1855.

When To See

Spring to autumn, best removed in early summer.


Mostly found on river banks or in damp woodland or other damp habitats. It out-competes native species. Die back of extensive stands can leave banks bare and exposed to erosion, and the same stands in summer can impede flow during high rainfall and increase the chance of flooding.

How To Identify

Use our picture based online app to help you identify this plant, click here

Tall growing, it produces clusters of pink-purple (occasionally white) helmet-shaped flowers, followed by seed pods that open explosively when ripe and can disperse seeds up to 7 metres away. Flowers are trumpet shaped and up to 4cm long. Leaves have finely serrated edges and a slender elliptical shape. Stems are greenish early in the year to reddish later in the year, and are hollow and fleshy to the touch. Short roots make it easy to remove by hand.

How It’s Treated

Short root structures allow it to be easily pulled out of the ground, where it can then be piled and left to rot down. If only a few are pulled, they can be hung from a tree branch and allowed to die off.

Pre-flowering, it can be indentified by the serrated leaves and the hollow, fleshy stems

A large stand on the banks of the Almond

One of our team members pulling Himalayan Balsam on the Almond

Even large plants with wide root systems are still quite easy to pull by hand

Seen It?

Been kicking about near your local river or burn and come across one of these species? Not sure? Share it with us at riverlife@forthriverstrust.org, we enjoy chatting about invasive species with you.