Balsams

Small Balsam Orange Balsam Orange Balsam Indian Balsam

What are they?

Balsams are a distinctive family of plants in the family Balsaminaceae. They have translucent, succulent stems, simple leaves and unusual, tubular flowers with nectar spurs at the back. The tall, Indian (or Himalayan) Balsam is potentially a serious invasive species and threatens biodiversity in a number of the region's important wetlands.

Where are they found?

Originally introduced as novel garden plants, the three species in our area are typically found in damp, shady areas in urban areas or along river valleys and in wetlands.

Identification

As a group, the succulent stems, simple leaves and unusual flowers are distinctive. All species have pendulous seed capsules which, when ripe, snap open when touched, flinging the seeds a great distance. Our three species are readily told from each other by flower colour.



Orange Balsam      Impatiens capensis

(Jewel-weed) Introduced from North America as a garden plant and now locally common in wetland areas, particularly in the Norfolk Broads. Flowers June to September.

Orange Balsam Orange Balsam Orange Balsam Orange Balsam
Habit
Flower
Flower
Leaf


Small Balsam      Impatiens parviflora

Introduced from Asia, perhaps accidentally with timber or other shipments. Widespread but very local in shady places. Flowers July to October.

Small Balsam Small Balsam Small Balsam Small Balsam
Habit
Flower
Flower
Leaves


Indian Balsam      Impatiens glandulifera

Introduced from Asia as a garden ornamental and now spreading into wetland areas and increasing year on year. A highly invasive species that poses a threat to the biodiversity of some of our most important wetlands. Flowers July to October. Flowers range in colour from deep rose through pale pink to white.

Indian Balsam Indian Balsam Indian Balsam Indian Balsam
Habit
Flower
Seed capsules
Seedlings