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Himalayan Balsam, Impatiens glandulifera, is a large annual plant, native to the Himalayas (resulting in its the colloquial name of kiss-me-on-the-mountain in the UK).


Invasive speciesEdit

Himalayan Balsam is sometimes cultivated for its flowers. It is now widely established in other parts of the world (such as the British Isles and the United States), in some cases becoming an invasive species weed. The aggressive seed dispersal, coupled with high nectar production which attracts pollinaters, often allows the Himalayan Balsam to outcompete native plants. In the UK, some local wildlife trusts organise "balsam bashing" events to help control the plant.

However, a recent study (Hejda & Pyšek, 2006) concludes that in some circumstances, such efforts may cause more harm than good. Destroying riparian stands of Himalayan Balsam can open up the habitat for more aggressive invasive plants such as Japanese knotweed and aid in seed dispersal (by dropped seeds sticking to shoes). Riparian habitat is suboptimal for I. glandulifera, and spring or autumn flooding destroys seeds and plants. The research suggests that the optimal way to control the spread of riparian Himalayan Balsam is to decrease eutrophication, thereby permitting the better-adapted local vegetation that gets outgrown by the balsam on watercourses with high nutrient load to rebound naturally. Regarding stands of the plant at forest edges and meadow habitats, they caution that these conclusions do probably not hold true; in such localities, manual destruction is apparently still the best way to stem or slow the expansion of Himalayan Balsam.

The Bionic Control of Invasive Weeds in Wiesbaden, Germany is trying to establish a self sufficient project to conserve their local biodiversity by developing several food products made from the Impatiens flowers. Eventually, if all goes well, this project will have the Himalayan Balsam financing its own eradication.

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