Smooth Himalayan Balsam
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Smooth Himalayan Balsam
P Native Photo: Nidhan Singh
Common name: Smooth Himalayan Balsam
Botanical name: Impatiens laevigata var. laevigata    Family: Balsaminaceae (Balsam family)

Smooth Himalayan Balsam is a much branched shrub, up to 1 m tall. Flowers are borne in 1-4 flowered, umbel-like clusters in leaf-axils. Flower-cluster-stalks are slender, 0.8-1 cm long. Flowers are yellowish white, tinged with pink. Flower-stalk 1.5–2 cm long. Sepals 4, outer two round, 1.1-1.2 x 0.3-0.4 cm, greenish yellow, 5-nerved, minutely 2–4-toothed, blunt; inner two sickle shaped, 1.4–1.6 × 0.3–0.4 cm, pale yellow. Upper petal (standard) kidney-shaped, 1.5–1.6 × 2.2–2.3 cm, yellow, cuspidate at tip, flat at base, 1-keeled. Lateral united petal pinkish yellow, 2-lobed; basal lobe nearly round, 1.1-1.2 cm in diam.; distal lobes rectangular about 1.5 × 0.7 cm, streaked with red lines, slightly notched or 2–lobed at tip, lower auricale reflexed. Lower sepal (lip) broadly funnel shaped; mouth 1.3–1.4 cm wide, red inside; base narrowed down into an incurved spur, 1.6–2.2 cm long, yellow. Stems are round, rough, fleshy, lower portion woody, greenish red to dull green, warty, upper portion with minute white dots, hairless. Leaves are alternate, crowded together at the tip of stem, elliptic or inverted-lanceshaped to narrowly inverted-lanceshaped, 7.5-19 x 4-6.5 cm, pointed to with a tail-tapering at the tip, narrowed or wedge-shaped at base, shallowly sawtoothed along the margins with teeth shortly appendaged, pale green to dark green above, pale green beneath; lateral nerves 5–8 pairs, raised on lower side; leaf-stalk 3-7 cm long. Capsules are linear, about 3 x 0.6 cm, green, ridged. Smooth Himalayan Balsam is found in Eastern Himalayas, at altitude of 600-1500 m. Flowering: September-December.

Identification credit: Wojciech Adamowski, Rajib Gogoi Photographed in Mausmai caves, Cherrapunji, Meghalaya.

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