Monday, 22 August 2016

Walking along the canal path at Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, England, recently, I came upon this interesting looking plant, which was new to me. It was growing abundantly along the side of the canal, separated from the path and reminded me of a small orchid.

When I got home, I looked it up and this is what I found:

'Indian Balsam

Impatiens glandulifera

Introduced as a garden plant from the Himalayas in 1839, and naturalised along waterways and in waste places, this tall, stout-stemmed species grows 100-200 cm high.  It is hairless and the stems reddish. There is no mistaking the rather orchid-like, mave, dangling flowers.

Flower: purplish pink, 2-5.4 cm, petals 5, forming a broad, lower lip and hood; sepals 3, lower forming a mauve, spurred bag.

Flower arrangement: long-stalked racemes arising from leaf-axils.

Flowering time: July - October.

Leaf: opposite or in threes, 5-18 cm long, elliptic, toothed; reddish glands along basal margins.

Fruit: capsule, club-shaped, opening by 5 valves, which spring into coils, shooting out seeds.'

Information from 'Illustrated Guide to Wild Flowers' by Stephen Blackmore

The Indian Balsam flowers were just behind me as I stood admiring the lock keeper's cottage below.


You can see more of my walk along the towpath here.

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2 comments:

  1. How interesting - to think it has come all the way from the Himalayas, wonder if anyone actually grows it in their garden now.

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  2. Lovely! I don't believe I've ever seen this plant.

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