Garo Balsam
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Garo Balsam
A Native Photo: Barkarine R Marak
Common name: Garo Balsam, Buskin Balsam • Garo: Buga retchi
Botanical name: Impatiens cothurnoides    Family: Balsaminaceae (Balsam family)

Garo Balsam is an herb, up to 2 ft tall, with stems erect, stout, almost woody and hairless near the base, otherwise brown covered with flaky scales at young branches, flower-cluster-stalks and flower-stalks. It has been rediscovered after a gap of 90 years. Flowers are primrose yellow, flower-stalk slender, brown covered with flaky scales, about 0.5-1 cm long, bracts lanceshaped, tip pointed, at the base of the flower-stalks, about 3 mm long. Sepals are 3, overlapping, 2 lateral ones flat, small, lanceshaped-curved, tip pointed, hairless, about 5 mm long. Posterior sepal (Lip) is large, petal-like, obovate, shallow boat-shaped, about 1.2 cm long, with a curved spur, about 1 cm long. Petals are 5, free, upper standard petal is keeled or hoodlike, nearly round, concave, dorsally hairy, about 8 mm long, lateral ones (wings) fused in pairs, bilobed, basal lobes ovate, about 8-9 mm long, distal lobes, round-oblong, dorsal ear well developed, about 3-4 mm long. Stamens are 5, anthers bi-locular. Flowers are borne in leaf-axils, in 2-4 flowered umbel-like clusters, in the upper parts of the plant. Flower-cluster-stalks are brown covered with flaky scales, about 0.2-1.5 cm long. Leaves are opposite and ternate (arranged in three), linear elliptic to narrow lanceshaped, about 4-9 x 0.7-1.3 cm across, base narrowing into the stalk or narrowed, margins finely toothed, tip somewhat pointed to shallow tapering, midrib impressed above and prominent beneath, lateral veins about 9-12 on either side of the midrib, membranous, green above and paler beneath, minutely velvet-hairy both above and beneath, leaf-stalk slender, about 1-2 cm long, exstipulate. Fruit is a capsule, narrow spindle-shaped or slightly club-shaped, about 1 cm long, hairless. Garo Balsam is endemic to Garo Hills, Meghalaya.

Identification credit: Rajib Gogoi Photographed in Garo Hills, Meghalaya.

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