FoI
Himalayan Balsam   
Foto info
Himalayan Balsam
ative Photo: Gurcharan Singh
Common name: Himalayan Balsam, Ornamental jewelweed, Policeman's Helmet
Botanical name: Impatiens glandulifera    Family: Balsaminaceae (Balsam family)
Synonyms: Impatiens roylei

Himalayan Balsam is an herbaceous annual plant 3-5 ft tall. The stems are erect, hollow, smooth, and hairless. Stems are reddish, multi-branched, with large swollen nodes. The large simple oblong, ovate to elliptic leaves are oppositely arranged (occasionally a whorl of 3 leaves is formed) They are about six inches long and three inches wide, sharply toothed. The flowers are arranged in sparse clusters from the leaf axils. The flowers are irregular, with five petals. Flower color ranges from white to pink to red to purple. The flowers, spotted yellow within, are 3-4 cm long. Lower petals form a broad lip, for the bees to land and crawl inside for the necter. The lower sepal is broadly bellshaped and is abruptly contracted into a slender incurved spur. The fruit is a club-shaped capsule, which explosively dehisces at touch when ripe. Himalayan Balsam may be confused with Gigantic Himalayan Balsam which too has large, pink flowers. However, a distinguishing feature is that the capsule of Gigantic Himalayan Balsam is linear, as opposed to club-shaped in Himalayan Balsam. Seeds are large (3-5 mm) and black at maturity.

Identification credit: Gurcharan Singh
Photographed in Tangmarg, Kashmir.
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