Munnar Balsam
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Munnar Balsam
A Native Photo: Shrishail Kulloli
Common name: Munnar Balsam
Botanical name: Impatiens munnarensis    Family: Balsaminaceae (Balsam family)

Munnar Balsam is a weak erect or semi-erect herb, up to 1 m tall, with stems slender, sparingly branched, often creeping below, rooting at lower nodes. Flower-stalks arise singluy or up to 4 fascicled in leaf axils, very short in bud, in flower 1-2.5 cm long, partially reflexed in fruit. Flowers are 1-1.3 cm long. Lateral sepals are thread-like, curved, about 6 mm long. Lip is boat-shaped, cuspidate in front, white with purple nerves, bottom somewhat flattened with a small pit instead of spur, inside convex continued forward as a ridge with a small yellow or orange crest about middle. Standard is ovate, keeled, tip mucronate. Wings are white with lilac or violet markings; distal lobes obovate-triangular; basal lobes triangular; dorsal ear bluntly conical or rounded, placed at right angles, dark-purple. Leaves are variable, usually lanceshaped, base broadest, shallowly heart-shaped tapering to an pointed tip or narrowly ovate, subpointed at base, distinctly sawtoothed along margins with apiculate teeth, bristly at base, up to 5.5 cm x 1.7 cm, velvet-hairy above, hairless and pale, sometimes glaucous below. Leaf-stalks are flattened, red above, narrowing to wings on stem; stipules thread-like, pointed, red, tips darker, bent towards right angles pointing downwards. Capsules are spindle-shaped, later swollen, tapering, 1.3-1.5 cm long, few seeded; seeds black, glossy, about 1.5 mm long. Munnar Balsam is endemic to Southern Western Ghats, common on edges of streams and marshy places in High Range near Munnar, Kerala. Flowering: September-December.

Identification credit: Shrishail Kulloli Photographed in Kerala.

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