Himalayan Balsam - Impatiens glandulifera

Description: Himalayan balsam, also known as Policeman’s helmet, was introduced into North America in the early 1900’s as an ornamental and is still sold in some nurseries to this day. Himalayan balsam has large showy flowers and bamboo-like stems.

Type: annual

Habitat & Impacts: Prefers moist habitats. This species poses particular risk to fish habitat and water quality. Himalayan balsam may come to dominate native riparian vegetation once established. Once it dies back in the fall, the exposed soil is vulnerable to erosion as it is not stabilized by any vegetation.

Method of Spread: Seed

Location: Bella Coola Valley, within gardens as horticultural plants.

Management Options:

Mechanical: The species has relatively shallow roots so hand pulling can be effective at eradicating sites of this species. Cutting can also be effective but must be conducted before seeds are set and done every year until no further plants emerge. Cattle and sheep can also be used to graze infestations but the treatments must again be continued until no new germinants appear. The trampling by livestock in riparian areas and the water-bodies themselves may be an unacceptable consequence of this treatment option and must be considered before a grazing treatment is attempted.
Control measures should take a top-down approach along water courses. Since the species spreads mainly by seeds flowing downstream, control should be established on upper section of the watercourse first to prevent seeds being carried down to already treated sites.

Chemical: As it is found primarily in moist riparian habitats, chemical control methods are not recommended.

Biological: There is no biocontrol currently available.

CCCIPC Priority & Treatment Strategy: Priority 1 (new invader) Himalayan balsam has been given this ranking due to the serious implications for riparian and fish habitats.

Treatment Options:

Local Level - hand pulling small infestations, avoid planting in gardens and flowerbeds.
Landscape Level – Hand pull.

Himalayan Balsam flower.

Himalayan Balsam infestation

Jan Samanek, State Phytosanitary Administration, Bugwood.org


Instead of planting Himalayan Balsam try one of the alternative in this booklet. Create and produced by the Invasive Species Council of BC 


Invasive species profile taken from the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Invasive Plant Committee Invasive Plant Regional Strategic Plan

Page last modified: October 30, 2018 09:44:02 PDT