Shangri-La Balsam
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Shangri-La Balsam
A Native Photo: Thingnam Girija
Common name: Shangri-La Balsam, Chungtien Balsam, Zhongdian Balsam
Botanical name: Impatiens chungtienensis    Family: Balsaminaceae (Balsam family)
Synonyms: Impatiens badrinathii Pusalkar and Singh, Impatiens amplexicaulis auct. non Edgew.

Shangri-La Balsam is an annual herb, 35-70 cm tall, characterized by ovate-oblong leaves and small pink flowers. It is named after the place Zhongdian (pronounced Chung-tien) in the Yunnan province of China, popularly known as Shangri-La. Flowers are borne in upper leaf axils, in corymb-like or raceme-like clusters, usually 5-7-flowered. Flower-cluster-stalks are 3-5 cm long. Flower-stalks are 5-7 mm, swollen at tip, bracteate at base; bracts ovate-lanceshaped. Flowers are pink, 1.5-1.7 cm deep. Lateral sepals 2, obliquely ovate, 3.5-4 mm, 5-veined, base heart-shaped, tip mucronulate. Lower sepal dark purple spotted, broadly funnel-shaped, gradually narrowed into an incurved spur 6-9 mm. Upper petal nearly round, 6-7 × 6-7 mm, tip long rostar-shaped, lower midvein carinate; lateral united petals clawed, about 1.4 cm, 2-lobed; basal lobes ovate-round, tip tapering; distal lobes oblong-dolabriform, tip slightly blunt; ear rounded. Filaments linear, about 4 mm; anthers blunt. Ovary spindle-shaped. Stem is prominently striped or 4-edged, robust, fleshy, simple or branched in upper part. Lower and middle leaves are opposite; leaf-stalk short, 5-15 mm, with 2 stipitate glands at base, Leaves are ovate-oblong or oblong, 5-8 x 2-3 cm, hairless, lateral veins 5-9 pairs, base rounded or slightly heart-shaped, margin rounded toothed or sawtoothed, tip tapering. Upper leaves are alternate, stalkless, ovate or ovate-oblong, rarely ovate-lanceshaped, 4-7 x 1.5-3.5 cm, base heart-shaped, stem-clasping, tip tapering. Capsules are linear-oblong, 1.4-2 cm. Seeds 8, black, oblong-ovoid, about 3 mm, smooth. Shangri-La Balsam is found in the Himalayas, in Yunnan, China, Arunachal Pradesh and Western Himalayas, at altitudes of 2000-3650 m. Flowering: July-September.

Identification credit: Rajib Gogoi Photographed in Tawang District, Arunachal Pradesh.

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