T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network

Impatiens glandulifera (Himalayan Balsam)

Kingdom: Plantae
(Unranked): Angiosperms
(Unranked): Eudicots
(Unranked): Asterids
Order: Ericales
Family: Balsaminaceae
Genus: Impatiens
Species: I. glandulifera
Binomial name: Impatiens glandulifera
Common names: Himalayan Balsam, Poor man's orchid, Policeman's Helmet, Bobby Tops, Copper Tops, Gnome's Hatstand, Indian Balsam, Bee-bums, Kiss-me-on-the-mountain,

Impatiens glandulifera is a highly invasive plant native to the Himalayas. It thrives in damp conditions and can tolerate shade. In New Zealand, it has been planted in gardens and is now been found growing wild along streams and in wetland areas. If it is found growing wild, pass the information on to your local DOC office.

Impatiens glandulifera typically grows to 1 to 2.5 m high, with a soft green or red-tinged stem, and lanceolate leaves 5 to 15 cm long. The crushed foliage has a strong musty smell. It has distinctive scented hooded flowers that are pale pink to purple and are 3 to 4 cm tall and 2 cm broad.
After flowering the plant forms seed pods 2 to 3cm long and 8 mm broad. A single plant can produce up to 2,500 seeds in pods that contain up to 800 seeds each. The seeds are explosively released when the mature pods are disturbed. This explosive action is capable of projecting the seeds 7 metres. This is a highly effective dispersal method which enables the plant to rapidly colonise the damp and riparian habitats that the plant favours. The seeds may be further spread by water and can remain viable for 2 years.
This aggressive seed dispersal, coupled with high nectar production which attracts pollinators, often allows the Impatiens glandulifera to out-compete native plants.

A small video clip showing the Himalayan (Indian) Balsam spreading their seeds. These invasive plants are non-native to New Zealand and form dense thickets along stream sides and in waterlogged woodland. Their explosive seed-pods eject the seeds many metres distant from the plant and spread downstream in running water and upstream as the seeds are ejected further and further each season.


White form



Photo of a bumblebee completely  inside the flower getting nectar

The seed pod which explode when ripe, scattering seeds up 7m.

The distinctive leaf.

The surface of a leaf.

The underside of a leaf.

Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information: