Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera)

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It typically grows to 1 to 2 m high, with a red-tinged stem, and lanceolate leaves 5 to 23 cm long. The flowers are pink, purple or white with a hooded shape, 3 to 4 cm tall and 2 cm broad; the flower shape has been compared to a policeman's helmet, giving rise to the alternative common name Policeman's Helmet. After flowering, the plant forms seed pods 2 to 3 cm long and 8 mm broad, which explode when disturbed, scattering the seeds up to 7 meters.

Key Identifiers
  • Bamboo-like stem; Smooth, usually hollow and jointed.
  • Red tinged stem and leaves.
  • Sharply serrated leaves.
  • Opposite or whorled leaves, usually 3.
  • Exploding fruit capsules.
Location in Canada
A common ornamental plant located in most urban areas across Canada. In Alberta there are escaped patches along water courses within the urban areas of Edmonton, Red Deer, and Parkland County. Pigeon Lake is believed to have the biggest infestation of escaped plants in Alberta.

Alberta Invasive Plants Council - Himalayan Balsam
Biology of Invasive Alien Plants in Canada. 9. Impatiens glandulifera

Similar species
Orange jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) - Native to North America. Flowers orange, brown-spotted, or –mottled. Leaves alternate and coarsely saw-toothed. E-Flora BC: Atlas of the Plants of British Columbia - Himalayan Balsan

Touch-me-not Jewelweed (Impatiens noli-tangere) - Native to North America. Flowers yellow, sparingly flecked with brownish purple. Leaves alternate and coarsely saw-toothed. Saskatchewan Wildflowers

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For more information about the content of this document, contact Chris Neeser.
This document is maintained by Shelley Barkley.
This information published to the web on April 3, 2012.
Last Reviewed/Revised on August 21, 2018.