Impatiens glandulifera calls India and the Himalayas home, but it has found its way into many countries around the globe, naturalizing in much of the Northern Hemisphere, including Maine. Known as Himalayan balsam or ornamental jewelweed, this annual can grow up to 6 feet in height with stems a decided shade of red and flowers in shades of pink. The blossoms themselves resemble helmets, which is the source of some of its other common names, including Policeman’s Helmet and Bobby Tops. Like its relative Impatiens capensis, aka jewelweed or spotted touch-me-not, I. glandulifera also gets rather explosive when its seedpods are ripe. The pods can burst when disturbed, shooting seed up to 23 feet away.
Wild Wednesday is a collaboration of Garden Maine and Glen Mittelhauser of the nonprofit Maine Natural History Observatory, www.mainenaturalhistory.org.
In 2012, Glen began working to catalog the plants of Baxter State Park, which you can read about here and find out how to sponsor a plant of your own. Courtesy of a poll taken in 2012, Garden Maine is sponsoring this lovely plant.