What's this beautiful plant? If you've come across a drift of pink and white helmet-shaped flowers on a riverbank somewhere, bees buzzing happily in and out of those many blossoms, then you might think you've found the loveliest wild flower ever.
This is Impatiens glandulifera, Himalayan Balsam, which is indeed a beautiful plant. But it's also a nasty invasive alien plant which is doing a great deal of destruction to our native flowers. It spreads via its exploding seeds (which are cool, but also bad. Sorry) and can completely swamp all other native plants in an area. It also leaves river banks vulnerable to erosion because it dies back completely in the winter, thus leaving the soil exposed. In short, it's beautiful but bad.
If you see it, the best thing to do is to record it through the PlantTracker app, and, if you can, pull some of it up. Many local wildlife groups have action days to try to remove as much of this plant as possible, so do have a look out for those too.
Sorry to burst your bubble of happiness. But we are #wildflowerhour and we want to celebrate lovely wild flowers, not sneakily beautiful plants that escaped from gardens and are smothering the wild flowers.
from #wildflowerhour http://www.wildflowerhour.co.uk/blog/2017/08/16/himalayan-balsam/