Himalayan balsam can be spotted in a number of municipalities across Alberta, and is especially common in flower beds. Before it was listed as a prohibited noxious weed, Himalayan balsam was a very popular ornamental. It was even readily available in greenhouses.
Himalayan balsam is incredibly invasive in wet areas — mature seed capsules explode when touched and so the plant can launch seeds up to five metres in distance, allowing this species to spread relatively rapidly. Once the plant takes over an area, Himalayan balsam’s shallow root system leaves riparian areas prone to erosion in the spring and fall.
It is most easily identified when its orchid-like flowers begin to bloom. Plants stand one to three metres tall, flowers range from pale pink to purple, and have lance-shaped, sharply serrated leaves.
If this plant is discovered, pull the plants and burn immediately, or place in garbage bags and dispose of at the landfill.