Chinese Balsam
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Chinese Balsam
ative Photo: Chitra Ahanthem
Common name: Chinese Balsam • Manipuri: ꯃꯣꯔꯦ ꯈꯨꯖꯡꯂꯩ Moreh Khujang lei
Botanical name: Impatiens chinensis    Family: Balsaminaceae (Balsam family)
Synonyms: Impatiens cosmia, Impatiens setacea

Chinese Balsam is an annual herb, found in NE India, often beside ponds, streamsides, field margins and swamps, at altitudes of 100-1200 m. Plant grows up to 1-2 ft tall, with stem which erect in upper part, prostrate at the base, slender, hairless. Nodes are slightly swollen, with adventitious roots. Oppositely arranged leaves are stalkless or nearly so, narrow linear or linear-lanceshaped. Leaves are gray-green below, green on the upper side, 2-10 cm long, and only 0.5-1 cm wide, rigidly papery. Leaf margin has widely separated spiny teeth. Flowers arise either singly or 2-3 fascicled in leaf axils. Slender flower stalks are 2-4.4 cm. Flowers are large, purple-red or white. Lateral sepals are linear, 1 × 0.1 cm. Lower sepal is funnel-shaped, 1.5 cm deep, gradually narrowed into an incurved or involute, slender spur. Upper petal circular, 1 cm in diameter; lateral united petals are not clawed, 1.4-1.5 cm, 2-lobed; basal lobes nearly circular, small. Farther lobes are broadly obovate to axe-shaped, apex rounded-obtuse; auricle narrow. Stamens are 5, with linear filaments. Capsule is elliptic. Flowering: June-August.
Medicinal uses: The whole plant is used medicinally for relieving fever and pain, removing toxic materials, promoting blood circulation, treating diarrhea, curing urinary infections, and healing carbuncles. In Manipur, the plant is used externally in burns, and taken internally with milk in gonorrhea.

Identification credit: Tabish Photographed in Meghalaya & Assam.

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