Himalayan balsam management resources


The information on this page relates to available management measures for Himalayan balsam. Please visit the dedicated Himalayan balsam species account for more general information on this species. 

Legislation mentioned in the following resources may not necessarily apply to Northern Ireland, but may relate to GB or Ireland. Not all legislation may be listed and will inevitably change from time to time. It is the responsibility of the individual to ensure that they are aware of and follow all legislation relevant to work carried out and any changes to it.

Widely Spread Species Management Measures Questionnaire (Terrestrial Plants)

The NIEA Widely Spread Species Management Measures Questionnaire (Terrestrial Plants) was produced to help highlight some of the key information that must be considered when developing management measures for a invasive non-native spices. The accompanying guidance notes provides a summary of some of the available management measures which should be used to complete the questionnaire. 

Widely Spread Species Management Measures Questionnaire (Terrestrial Plants)

Accompanying notes for Widely Spread Species Management Measures Questionnaire (Himalayan balsam)

Manual removal

Manual control works well for dealing with single plants or small infestations that can be eradicated with a small amount of labour.

Manual pulling/cutting; commonly known as ‘balsam bashing’ events are now common place

    • It is vital to remember that pulling should be performed prior to the formation of the seed pods which explode at the slightest disturbance when ripe
    • Himalayan balsam has a very shallow root making uprooting by hand easy.
    • The pulling technique must be undertaken so that whole plant is uprooted and normally best done if pulled from low down the plant – If snapping occurs at a node the pulling must be completed to include the roots.
    • Uprooted plants can be left to air dry and decompose on a non-permeable membrane. This method is highly suited to dealing with initial outbreaks of the species and in areas where balsam plants are mixed in with sensitive native species.
    • Mechanical control, by repeated cutting or mowing, is effective for large stands, but plants can regrow if the lower parts are left intact. The plant must be cut below the lowest node to stop regeneration.
    • Strimming and mowing of Himalayan balsam may also be effective but only prior to the seed pods developing.
    • Any attempt to cut this plant once the seeds have developed will cause the seed pods to burst, spreading the plant. The seeds of this plant are not very robust and only survive for up to 18 months, therefore a two year control programme can be successful in eradicating this plant provided there is no further infestation from upstream or adjacent sites.
    • Grazing by cattle and sheep is effective from April throughout the growing season in some situations. It should be continued until no new growth occurs. Grazing on riverbank habitats can however have negative impacts such as poaching of river banks and the removal of other native vegetation which may act as a buffer zone.

Further information on available management measures can be found in the resources listed below. 

RAPID LIFE – Good Practice Management Giant hogweed

PCA Guidance Note – Management of Himalayan balsam

The following resources also provide further information on management measures for Himalyan balsam;

Invasive Species Northern Ireland

Invasive Species Northern Ireland