Invasive Species: Himalayan Balsam
*Detected in Michigan*
Report this species:
Use the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN) online reporting tool.
- Or - download the MISIN smartphone app and report from your phone - MISIN.MSU.edu/tools/apps/#home
Photo courtesy of Barbara Tokarska-Guzik, University of Silesia, Bugwood.org.
Himalayan balsam leaves. Photo courtesy of Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org.
Photo courtesy of Francine MacDonald.
- Grows between 3 and 6 feet tall.
- Purple/red stems are smooth and hollow.
- 5-10 flowers on each stems.
- 5 petals per flower-purple, pink or white in color.
- Fruit capsules explode when ripe and touched.
Habitat: Himalayan balsam is an herbaceous, terrestrial, annual plant that thrives in riparian zones. It can be found in wetlands, forests, gardens, yards and on the side of the road. This species can tolerate many types of soils.
Native Range: Himalayan region of Asia.
U.S. Distribution: Has been introduced to northern states on the East Coast and along the West Coast including Montana and Idaho.
Local concern: Himalayan balsam competes heavily with native species and alters the behavior and composition of pollinating insects. Additionally, this species can alter water flow at high densities which increases the risk of erosion and flooding.
Other Common Names: Ornamental jewelweed, touch-me-not, Indian jewelweed, policeman’s helmet.
Native look-alikes and how you can tell them apart from Himalayan balsam:
- Jewelweed or spotted touch-me-not (Impatiens capensis): Yellow to orange flowers, much smaller in size, leaf blades more rounded with fewer serrations.
- Pale touch-me-not (Impatiens pallida): Yellow flowers. Leaf blades more rounded, with fewer serrations.