Common Name: Himalayan Balsam
Scientific Name: Impatiens glandulifera
Habitat: shoreline - in water and on land, forests - wet areas, ornamental beds
Provincial Designation: Prohibited Noxious
Prohibited Noxious weeds are plant species designated in the Alberta Weed Control Act. Prohibited noxious weeds must be destroyed when found, meaning all growing parts need to be killed or the plant's reproductive mechanisms need to be rendered non-viable.
Himalayan Balsam, also called Policeman’s helmet, is native to the western Himalayas. It was introduced to North America as an ornamental garden plant.
Himalayan balsam is an aggressive invader of wetlands, streams and moist woodlands where it displaces native and beneficial vegetation, causing a loss in native biodiversity. Seeds can be transported by water which helps this weed to spread quickly along waterways.
The large white, pink, or purple flowers resemble a giant snapdragon with a large upper and lower ‘lip’. Some people see a resemblance to a British policeman’s helmet or a fancy hat. They are bilaterally symmetrical - there is only one way to evenly divide the flower so that the two halves like a mirror for each other.
The leaves are egg-shaped or elliptic with pointed tips and have a prominent red middle vein. They are arranged oppositely or in whorls of three. The leaf edges are sharply serrated and have glands.
Its stems grow 1-3 m tall.
It is an annual plant, but can readily regrow from seed. The seed pods, 2 to 3 cm long and 8 mm broad, which explode when disturbed, scattering the seeds up to 7 metres.
Can Be Confused With ...
Tall Garden Phlox - Phlox paniculata - and joe pye weed - Eupatorium maculatum - which are ornamental garden plants and fine for you to grow!
Spotted Touch Me Not - Impatiens capensis - native species which has orange/orange flowers rather than pink/purple.
City of Edmonton Activity:
Himalayan Balsam is a plant of such concern that volunteers have been actively eradicating this species from Kennedale Ravine. For more information please visit Himalayan Balsam Pulls
Learn more about this species:
See Fact Sheet - Alberta Invasive Species Council