Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera), also known as poor man’s orchid, policeman’s helmet, and touch-me-not, is on the prohibited noxious weed list in Alberta and must be destroyed by anyone growing it. If this plant is in your garden, remove it immediately. Do not share seed or plants with other gardeners.

This fast-growing annual plant has showy, irregular, pink-purple-white flowers with five petals. It grows 1-3 metres tall and has large oblong leaves with serrated edges, oppositely arranged on smooth, hollow, 4-sided stems. Roots are shallow and fibrous. Seed pods explode when ripe and can shoot seeds up to 10m. For more on this and other noxious weeds, see the Alberta Invasive Species Council.

Other plants you could grow instead include: Husker Red Beard-Tongue (Penstemon barbatus ‘Husker Red’), Pink Sensation Monkshood (Aconitum carmichaelli ‘Pink Sensation’), Gas Plant (Dictamus albus var. purpurea), and flowering raspberry.

Other noxious weed information pages:
Centaurea macrocephala, also on the prohibited list.

Photo © Keith Williamson, licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons License.