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Anyone who likes to travel in the great outdoors and prefers river meadows, has certainly already noticed that, especially on riparian zones, a plant grows that did not exist ten or fifteen years ago or only to a small extent.
The growing up to 2 meters tall greenhouse is spreading further and further. Anyone who gets too close to the herb in late summer or fall will experience a surprise that will not dazzle them unless they know the peculiarity of this plant. It is in fact the glandular or Indian balsam. As the name implies, the herb shoots its seeds out into the world at the slightest touch.
Profile Drüsiges - Indian balsam
On thick, tall stems are opposite strong green, toothed leaves. These are about 20 cm long, up to 6 cm wide, run pointed and sit on a petiole. On this stem and on the leaf ground are the eponymous glands. The main stems of the plant branch and form each grape-like inflorescences.
The Indian balsam has beautiful flowers that are very reminiscent of orchids, which is why in some areas it is also called Wupperorchidee. The correct botanical name is Impatiens glandulifer, belonging to the order of the heather-type. The flowers, which sit on a up to 30 cm long, slightly hanging stem, vary from pink, white to purple and spread a strong, slightly sweet smell. Each flower has three sepals, with the lower spur-like, and five petals, the upper one is the largest of them all. The glandular bog plant starts flowering in June and continues to do so until the start of frost. Thus, most of the time, all developmental stages are present simultaneously, from the bud to the seedling. A flower is about three to four inches long, the spur occurs even slightly. From the flower forms a capsule in the shape of a club. In it are the round seeds with about 3 mm diameter. When the seeds are ripe, the capsule opens to the slightest pressure, for example when a raindrop impacts. The side parts of the capsule curl upwards in a flash. The seeds are scattered in this process up to seven meters in all directions.
The Drüsige - Indian balsam as a neophyte
Plants that originate in a completely different country are called neophytes. If they multiply so rapidly in their new environment that they displace the native vegetation, they become a serious problem. The Indian balsam has its origin in the Himalayas. In this barren area, the strategy that developed the balsam for further planting made perfect sense. On the other hand, the seeds have made it much easier for us to meet optimal growing conditions. Thus, the herb is getting more and more prevalent. Because of its charming flowers, it was first introduced in England in the early 19th century, later it also came to the European mainland.
Competition with the native vegetation
Since the jumping seeds could not be limited by a garden fence or a wall, the plants soon began their triumphal procession within the great outdoors. Although the bright flowers are in great demand among the bees, the herb is becoming more of a problem, as it radically suppresses the native vegetation. Especially on river or river banks, the plant has an easy game, because there it finds ideal conditions. The decisive disadvantage compared to the original bank vegetation is its only up to 10 cm into the ground branched root ball, which is not able to provide stability. Native plants with their long, branched roots held the slopes. However, due to lack of space, these are increasingly becoming more and more unstable, so that, especially at high tide, complete embankments are carried along.
Indian balsam - combat
Conservationists face a seemingly unsolvable task to stop this proliferating herb. It is an annual plant that dies in winter. Their seeds work hard in the spring. Due to the predilection for embankments, the seeds are carried miles away from the running water and thus very widespread. The removal of the plants is only worthwhile if it happens in early spring, if no germinable seeds have yet formed. Under no circumstances may clippings be disposed of in compost or green waste plants in summer or autumn. It is only possible to destroy seeds by burning them. Hobby gardeners should also refrain from these plants in order not to support the distribution even further. The fight against the Indian balsam is very necessary, so that our native vegetation has a chance to spread again.