Mary Legge's Balsam   
Foto info
Mary Legge's Balsam
ative Photo: Krishan Lal
Common name: Mary Legge's Balsam
Botanical name: Impatiens leggei    Family: Balsaminaceae (Balsam family)

Mary Legge's Balsam is a recently (2010) discovered species of Balsam, named as a tribute to late Ms Joan Margarete Legge, a Botanist deputed by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh in 1939 for botanical exploration in the Valley of Flowers. During plant collection, she slipped from a rocky slope and died in the valley. It is an annual, erect herb, 15-70 cm tall. Stem is simple to moderately branched, hairless or glandular, with few scattered, small, rounded, brown stalkless glands, particularly in the upper part of the stem. Leaves are alternate below, clustered in the upper part of the stem, stalked below, almost stalkless above. Leaf-stalks are up to 4 cm long, hairless. Leaves are lanceshaped to oblong or elliptic, 4-18 x 2-7.2 cm, base narrowed, tip long-pointed, margins toothed. Leaf surfaces are hairless. Leaf margins with basal teeth show glands. Flowers are borne in racemes in leaf axils, clustered in the axils of the upper clustered leaves, usually exceeding the leaves, stalked. Inflorescence axis (including peduncle) is 2-18 cm long, hairless or with sparse, sessile, brown glands; bracteoles ovate to lanceshaped or elliptic, long-pointed, usually gland-tipped, 1.5-3.8 x 1-2.6 mm, hairless. Flower-stalks are slender, curved at tip. Flowers are 4-18 per raceme, white, pink and yellow or white, lavender and yellow. Lateral sepals are greenish or yellowish-creamy; lip (lower sepal) is white or flushed with yellow or with yellow irregular spots or streaks within (which appears pale from without); spur is white or purple-tipped white; upper petal is white; wings on either side of fusion point flushed with yellow or orange-yellow at the base or with yellow or orange spots; upper lateral petals (of fused pair of wings) are white or pinkish-white, lower petals pink or lavender, often white at base. Lateral sepals are 2 (one pair of opposite sepals), ovate to lanceolate, unequally parted by midvein, sometimes somewhat curved, 2.5-5 x 1.2-4.5 mm, margins entire, tip long-pointed, gland-tipped or not, surfaces hairless. Lip is navicular, 1.0-1.8 cm long (including spur), 5.2-8 mm deep at face, with 0.3-0.5 mm long-pointed or cuspidate lower tip and smoothly tapering into long, straight or terminally slightly curved spur. Upper petal is cucullate, circular to oblong-circular, 5-10 x 5.8-12 mm, tip notched, back keeled. Capsules are linear or linear-clubshaped, 1.7-3.4 cm long, 1.2-2.4 mm broad, straight or curved, hairless, green, often purple at base and tip. Mary Legge's Balsam is found in partly shaded or open moist places and rock-shade, in Western Himalayas, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, at altitudes of 2400-3450 m. Flowering: July-October.

Identification credit: Krishan Lal Photographed in Sirmaur Distt, Himachal Pradesh & Valley of Flowers, Uttarakhand.

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