igm54's picture

Indian Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera)

Observed: 4th October 2011 By: igm54
S159 Neighbourhood Nature - course complete
igm54’s reputation in Plantsigm54’s reputation in Plants
Indian Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera)
Indian Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) 1

Native to India and the western Himalaya. (Impatiens glandulifera). Description and Variation: Impatiens glandulifera, or policeman’s helmet, is an herbaceous annual that is succulent and glabrous (smooth and hairless), and it can range from three to ten feet tall. The upright, hollow stems are easily broken and they have a purplish tinge. The leaf arrangement can be opposite or whorled, with (usually) three leaves to a node. The simple leaves range from oblong to ovate to elliptic (egg shaped), and they are about six inches long and half as wide. The leaf margins are sharply serrate with 20 teeth, or more, along each side. Each leaf has a stout petiole (stem), with small, glandular stalks found at the base of these petioles. Several solitary flowers terminate an elongated axillary stalk. The flowers are irregular, with five petals (two fused), three sepals (two fused) and five stamens with connate (fused) filaments. The overall flower shape resembles an English policeman’s helmet. The fused sepals form a spur less than six mm long. The flower colour ranges from white to all shades of pink and purple. The fruit is a five chambered capsule. When touched, the mature capsule explodes and ejects up to 800 seeds. The roots extend four to six inches deep, with adventitious roots found along the lower stem nodes, sometimes buttressing.This plant is not a native to the UK and indeed in the top 10 alien species list. http://www.wildflowersofontario.ca/indiantouchmenot.html

Species interactions

No interactions present.

Species with which Indian Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) interacts


igm54's picture

Unknown white flowering plant

You may be able to see (in picture 2 right) the very long stem (runs about 3 feet)lying flat on the ground, the stem then bends upward to allow the plant to flourish upward (toward the sun?).
It originally emerged amid a thick clump of beech rose bushes and willows and has run the stem along the ground toward the border of these other plants, I am guessing for full light.

igm54's picture

Indian (Himalyan) Balsam

I went back to the park and done some further investigations and discovered that it was as I secretly suspected - Himalayan Balsam, Indian Balsam also known as Policemans Helmet(UK)and Touch-me-not (India)'Impatiens glandulifera'. Although not a UK native and very invasive it is a beautiful plant that the bees and bee keepers love because of the high pollen yield and reportedly excellent honey it produces. Sadly this lovely plant is on the top 20 Aliens list in the UK.