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Hooker's Balsam
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Hooker's Balsam
E Native Photo: Shrishail Kulloli
Common name: Hooker's Balsam
Botanical name: Impatiens hookeriana    Family: Balsaminaceae (Balsam family)

Hooker's Balsam is a medium sized perennial evergreen shrub, up to 40-80 cm, tall; stem and branches robust, green- purple, fleshy, 1-2 cm in diameter. It has long been confused with Grand Balsam, but is a much smaller plant. Flowers are 3.8-4.7 cm across; white or pale purple with streaks of peppermint red or pinkish red markings with deep purple saclike lower sepal. Lateral sepals are 2, large, broadly ovate, 4-7 x 1.8-2.3 mm long, apiculate, tip tapering, inwardly curved, 1-2 nerved, purple-green; lower sepal is larger, saclike, 2.3-2.8 x 1.8-2.3 cm, with 4-6 prominent striations, blunt or prolonged into a stout, thick tubiform, hairless, spur 6-11 cm, inwardly curved, pale purple or purple, spur tube is 0.3 mm diameter. Dorsal petal is 0.8-1.1 x 1.1-1.3, dorsally keeled, pale purplish with peppermint red marking with deep purple on keeled part, hairless. Lateral united petals are 2-lobed, 2.1-2.6 x 1.5-1.8 cm obovate-lanceshaped, pale purplish with peppermint red marking, basal lobe small, 0.6-1.3 x 1.1-1.5 cm, distal lobe irregularly round or spherical, 1.6-2.1 x 1.1-1.8 cm, pale purplish with peppermint red marking, clawed at several parts. Flower-stalks are 5-7 cm long. Flowers are borne in groups of 4-6 towards branch ends, on erect flower-cluster-stalks, 10.5-12.3 cm long, stout, shorter than leaves; deep purple tinged with green. Leaves are simple, alternate, ovate, 10.5-14.2 x 5.7-6.8 cm, sawtoothed, crenatures fringed with hairs, primary nerves 5-8 pairs, hairless, thick, blunt at base, pointed at tip. Stalks are channeled, up to 4.7-7.2 cm long, hairless, reddish with 1-2 pairs of glands; blade leathery, hairless. Capsules are medium sized, 1.0-1.8 cm long, ellipsoid, swollen in centre, green, fleshy and leathery. Hooker's Balsam is restricted to the hills of Courtallum, Southern Western Ghats of India. Flowering: September-February.

Identification credit: Shrishail Kulloli Photographed in Kerala

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