Khasi Balsam
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Khasi Balsam
P Native Photo: Nidhan Singh
Common name: Khasi Balsam
Botanical name: Impatiens khasiana    Family: Balsaminaceae (Balsam family)
Synonyms: Impatiens bella var. major

Khasi Balsam is a fleshy perennial herb up to 80 cm tall, sparsely branched; stem round, bristly; nodes not swollen. Leaves are confined mainly to upper part, alternate; leaf-stalk 0.5-3.6 cm long, glandular velvet-hairy. Leaf blade is broadly ovate or inverted-lanceshaped, 8-11.5 cm long, 3-5 cm wide, velvet-hairy on both sides, green above, pale green beneath, base abruptly wedge-shaped or gradually narrowed, margin rounded toothed, tip pointed to tapering; lateral veins 8-13 pairs. Flowers are borne in leaf-axils, in 1- or 2- flowered clusters. Flower-cluster-stalk is up to 0.6 cm long, velvet-hairy; flower-stalk 1-2 cm long, velvet-hairy, green; bract at base of flower-stalk, lanceshaped, up to 7.5 mm long, 1.5 mm wide, pale green, persistent, velvet-hairy, tip tapering. Flowers are purple, lateral sepals 2, slightly obliquely ovate, velvet-hairy, 1 cm long, 0.6 cm wide, green, purplish at base, tip tapering; lower sepal bucciniform, pinkish with purple streaks inside, mouth inprominently beaked, with yellow spot on the ventral side at junction of sepal and spur; spur hooked, white, hairy, up to 1.3 cm long, tip purple. Dorsal petal is shallowly hood-like, nearly round, 1.3 cm long, 0.7 cm wide, purple, with midrib dark purple. Lateral united petals are bilobed, nearly equal, 2 cm long, purple, basal lobe obovate, 5 mm wide, with tip pointed to blunt; distal lobe is shaped like an axe head, tip pointed to blunt, 1.3 cm long, 0.8 cm wide; basal ear golden, 1 mm long. Stamens are 5, slightly upcurved, to 5 mm long; filaments white with purple dots. Ovary is green with purple dots. Capsules are green, spindle-shaped, up to 2.2 cm long, 0.8 cm wide. Khasi Balsamis endemic to the Khasi Hills, Meghalaya, at an altitude of 1700 m. Flowering: May-September.

Identification credit: Nidhan Singh Photographed in Meghalaya.

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